The day Ananya invited me to join the ADT Board is still fresh; we met at Seward Coop at the end of the day. That was over two years ago. During this time, my understanding of ADT’s work has deepened beyond what is expressed in ADT’s mission statement and taglines. Where I find my passion merging with ADT’s vision is the intense desire to bring about joy and beauty, through dance, in a world replete with unease, unawareness and dehumanization. ADT is unique in its quest to include the silenced, unheard marginalized communities of color, of women. In this powerful, unwavering journey towards peace, most dancers are intentionally chosen because they are women of color. Finally, what I admire is ADT’s uncompromising stance on its loving, exquisite attention to the aesthetics of dance and movement.
One of my fondest memories is when Ananya invited me to recite the Bangla poem বল বীর, to be used as part of the score in Neel. It was remarkable for us to honor a Bengali poet’s fiery Bangla poem, ceremoniously ushering it into our White-English-monolithic reality, declaring our courage with the power of our voices, in our mother-tongue.
Who I am at present is complex, not complicated; it is multi-layered, not unitary. It is comforting for me to inhabit identities in me that speak, write, read, listen to, and savor Bangla and its culture, and Bangal, the language of my mother from Mymensingh, now in Bangladesh. दिल मचलता है to enter the world of Hindi and Urdu, the language and culture of the land I grew up in for almost a couple of decades. Where I physically make my home and work is Minneapolis at present, and like the city, I struggle with but persist in dreaming of more equitable, joyous, flourishing communities, regardless of race, gender, country of origin, etc. I see myself in a continuous dance, springing from the belief that it will take each one of us, however fragmented we are at present, to create a whole world. I’m inspired by the call of a persistent imagination, sparked by the knowledge that some of us have more to do, and are continuously learning to lead the work of nurturing vulnerability and softening hearts.