Imagine an outdoor theater nested in the serenity of one of nature's most breathtaking scenes coated with vivid mountains, lush green grass, tall slender palm trees and combined with the laughter of hundreds of beautiful innocent children all around - Our show that had not even begun yet, was already a memorable success!
The Karjat theater amplified the values that IFF carried throughout their entire school as the circular back wall displayed a fantastic arrangement of the many wonders of the world. As I walked around counting the wonders I had actually been fortunate enough to go visit, gratitude filled my heart for being blessed with those opportunities. Though tough to admit, the Taj Mahal had not made my list, yet...I was sure to cross it off just a few weeks later! Below the wonders of the world, the stone walls were covered with a unique painting style called, Warli.
Side Note: Warli art was derived from the Warli people who were indigenous Indians that were evicted from their villages by the British and ended up living in the outskirts of main cities or in the fringes of forests. Even today they continue to carry a painting tradition stretching back to 3000 BCE using rudimentary graphic vocabulary: a circle, a triangle, and a square. These shapes were derived from the sun/moon, mountains and trees to tell stories about hunting, fishing, farming, festivals and dances. It is found all over India and exemplifies gratitude in simplicity and tradition.
Seats were packed with friends arriving from all parts of the India from Pune, to Bombay, to Ahmadabad to Karjat itself. The crowd was getting ready to see a performance that most did not even realize might change their lives forever.
Fifteen minutes of colorful innocence by the talented IFF students opened our show that night wowing the audience with their performance on the many elements of the world and a their own unique message of unity and love. With little to no practice, it was a flawless transition into the 90 minute dance/drama performed by our MS kids - Symbolic of there truly being no difference in all the children that were spreading a message on stage that day.
While the awe-striking performance that night left the audience speechless - I was lucky enough to take the backstage seat. Between the frantic costume changes and prop placements, if I could have had a video camera to record what was going on backstage, it would be a box office hit in no time. As Nimeshbhai often says, this tour is not about a production going around the world - But rather, even more importantly, a beautiful journey that is being embarked on to touch each of these children's lives and further plant a seed in all those that came in contact with them or anyone on the team. Backstage was no less a beautiful spectacle of kids helping each other, kids hugging each other, kids singing and dancing even off stage, kids truly happy and in love with each other. You could feel the energy - They were not performing an act of unity, love and oneness, they were truly living examples of it.
What's even better is that we took that love after the show and started our own Garba party on stage with lights, dhols, laughter, and the Bye Bye song (Gujarati traditional song - Pardon the ignorance!) AND...Silly string! Can you think of a better way to end the night?! :)
Thanks to the Karjat IFF team that helped us put on one of the most memorable performances to kick off our tour!