Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Remove the ceiling above your dreams!

Responses came pouring in as soon as we made the announcement about our London show this summer. However challenging it seemed, we believed in our culture, our heritage, our music and the sense of unity among us to make all possible effort in taking Bangla music beyond its limit, to an endless boundary. The pre-concert organizational meeting in London was a tremendous success with sponsors pouring in. We were ecstatic to know that there are others who truly believe in our dream and hold a strong passion for music, and for our roots. With so many eager performers and generous sponsors, we had no time to waste now. We quickly started getting all our energy together that we have been harboring since our first show. We started looking for venues, for tickets, for possible concert dates. We started clearing our schedules for the summer so we can spend more time preparing for the big show! Our summer plans now revolved around how the rehearsal schedule will run. We simply couldn’t wait!

Then came the unfortunate news - losing a significant chunk of the funding from a major sponsor, due to an unforeseen circumstance. Now the only way our dream can come true, is if we can somehow bear our own ticket expenses. The minute I heard the news, I didn’t hesitate for a second to say, “Taps, I’m still in”. Yes we are faced with roadblocks, but no one said it would be easy. Isn’t life all about challenges? Isn’t life also about rising above those and not giving up? Then why should I let one obstacle get in the way of my dream? Yes MY dream, not just AK’s dream, it is OUR dream. What have I got to lose? Not much. What have I got to gain? A priceless experience! Some may think its easy for me to say. Under all other circumstances it would not be. But in the grand scheme of things, it was an easy decision indeed. That one ticket can now earn me a memorable experience that I will cherish forever, an unforgettable story that I can share all my life, a true bond of friendship that will be unbreakable, a chance to be part of history, part of an extraordinary adventure, and an opportunity that may never come knocking on my door again. Our biggest strength is our unity, and united together, anything is possible. As Taps always says, if you dare to dream, you might as well dream big, and you’ll at least reach half way. That’s exactly where we are! Very close, almost there! I certainly will not back out now, because just like many of us, I want to be able to say today, “we have removed the ceiling above our dreams, there are no more impossible dreams”.

- Pusha Karim,
on behalf of Amra Kojon

The fervor in the air....

There's an unexplainable charged up feeling in the air. A muted excitement, sort of bubbling under the surface. I can't really put my finger on it...

It all began with the project update email we've just received. The final update includes description of how our sponsor in London had to withdraw their financial support because of incapaciating financial losses they incurred in their business this quarter. As a result, we're now inviting performers to join our traveling troupe to London in Sept 2006 and pay for their own airfare/visa costs, while we try to arrange for a series of smaller scale sponsorships to defray the costs of accommodation, venue reservation, and local incidental expenses.

Instead of letting this setback get us down, it seems like all the performers and team members are responding back with enthusiasm and treating this roadblock more as a challenge we can all surmount together.

And then there's this charged feeling in the air, as AK members prepare to start rehearsals for the September show in London. There's energy, passion, and rescheduling social activities to make time and space for bangla gaan.

And I can't help being impressed and amazed all over again - at the spirit that's become the Amra Kojon concept.

-Naina Ahmad
on behalf of Amra Kojon

Counting the Blessings

It's been a while but all these new posts makes me all teary-eyed :)

Sohini, we miss u painfully and want u back here asap.
Charishma-Shaila, what a surprise!
David, we are are thrilled to have you be a part of us.
Chip, the DVD of the show is truly incredible - since I didn't get to watch the whole show live.
Himi, it's been way too long since I've heard u sing - we must remedy that.
Angela, u belong to that pride too - we all do. Like lions!
Pusha, u embody the spirit of AK as a non-performer this season and I hope everyone reads what you wrote.
Jhilmil, Switzerland is seeing much more of you lately than we are. But have a blast and come back faaaast.
Sujon, thank god for the sessions CD since I never tire of hearing Nobi Nadia's golden voice - live or recorded!
Naina, words fail me. I will never know how u do all that u do and do AK and blogs and a thousand other things at the same time...

Yes, it's tough to pull stuff off when all of us are volunteers, have different jobs, live in different cities, states and countries.
Sometimes it's a struggle with time, commitments, words...

But still we do it.

And something somehow makes it all worth the while no matter how many things go wrong.

There are so many wonderful ways in which AK brings people together, bridges gaps and builds hope.
These posts are mere testimony to some.

- Auditi Guha,
on behalf of Amra Kojon

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Time in Between

It has been almost a couple of months since I left Boston after our show. I have missed everyone more during this time than I did after I first left Boston for London. So much have I missed everyone that I have worked every hour of overtime made available at work so that I can take time off to see everyone again. When I flew into London after this show, I had to make my way directly from the airport to work. The overtime that week felt never-ending, but I knew that it was worth it. Right now, the focus is on the less fun stuff: scouting for venues, making bookings, etc. I remind myself that the fun of rehearsals will not happen without the logistical work and that many of us have made and are making sacrifices for AK. But then, that’s what makes it more special.

- Sohini Alam,
on behalf of Amra Kojon.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The curling smoke of the ever-present cigarettes

When I was first introduced to the music and dance of Amra Kojon in 2003, I immediately recognized that I was in the presence of a breath-taking ancient tradition. The music was transcendent: the bittersweet wails of a landscape and people that -- even without knowledge of the language -- gush beauty, sorrowful images and wisdom. One can only imagine a serene pond, a grieving mother, or a bride's ecstatic joy of hope and goodwill when one hears the poetic melodies played so soulfully by these performers.

With their carefully choreographed steps, iconic gestures and ever-present sweet smiles, the dancers are equally inspiring. The audience is left to feel as though they are receiving the grace of goddesses small and large, breathing life and vigor into their mythologies, evoking childhood playfulness, the strength of maturity, and the tantalizing allure of a young woman.

Three years later, after being treated so kindly by the Bengali community of Boston, I was honored to photograph their most recent performance. Every song, every meditative lyric was performed with the concentration of mystics consumed by the deep beauty of...everything: life, death, sickness, prosperity, the everyday, truth. The ancient instruments, mastered by Taposh Talukder and a host of other musicians -- including [one woman] who commanded a massive sitar like a deft equestrienne -- laid the foundation for the expression of life's constancy and vicissitudes.

When I was a college student, a philosophy professor first introduced me to curry and notions of the eternal behind the curling smoke of his ever-present cigarettes. Amra Kojon has done the same for me, helping me to further understand the dimension of beauty that lies beneath the ethereal vehicles of song, dance and milieu.

- Glenn Kulbako,
on behalf of Amra Kojon

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A new friend and a rediscovered friend

1. Got a frantic email from an administrator of our department on 7th noon: we desperately need someone to perform live instrumental music in the commencement reception hosted by the Civil Engr. Department on 9th noon.
Who else do I have to turn for help except AK ?!!
Thanks to Taposh-da's magic, Koyel agreed to perform in a days notice, made the long trip to Cambridge from RI in a weekday noon and we had a wonderful commencement reception.
And I got this opportunity to better know a wonderful person like Koyel.

2. As a kid of grade four I had known a sweet girl named Shaila ...later we attended the same high school for a short while. After long 10 years in the AK April show I discovered that 'AK Dina' and the Shaila I knew as a kid is the same person !! And we have been living in the same coast for the last 4 years !

Being a part of AK is such an amazing experience in so many different ways !

On behalf of AK

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bring on the paint!!

I am wrapping up my last day of work before I go off and pursue a completely new career path. Naina knows this is a chaotic time in my life and wanted in on the action. She asked me to recount this past year... and as I think about what has really changed in my life, I think about my friends. I have a beautiful past and present because of friends. This is how I recall times in my life and how I pinpoint memories... friends. I know as long as I look back to this vibrant time in my own life history, Amra Kojon friends will pop happily into view. It's as if they have rushed into my life with buckets of colorful magic paint and have splashed glittery textured strokes in every corner of my being! Now as I move to the next phase in my life, it doesn't quite feel like a phase at all because I know that these friends will continue to bombard my life with energy, excitement, love and faith in friendship. So please, keep bringing over your buckets of paint to me!

- Jhilam Biswas Jhilmil
on behalf of Amra Kojon