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CONCERT FOR A CAUSE: Dancing Into Orbit For Ummeed

Ranjani Saigal

Dancing Into Orbit

Concept , Creation and Choreography; Vasantha Vaikunth
Dance Training and Choreography: Kausalya Srinivasan
Coordination: Ranjani Saigal
Music: Rajesh Vaidya, Hariprasad, Vijayaraghavan, Kausalya Srinivasan

Date: Sunday August 8, 2004 , 3:30 pm
Location: Cohen Auditorium, Talbot Ave, Tufts University, Medford, MA – 01255
Further Information: info@lokvani.com, or call Nirmala Garimella @ 781-862-3316

Classic Vedic Astrological literature details the characteristics of the Nava(nine) Grahas(planets) and the influence of the Grahas on the lives of people. “Dancing Into Orbit” is a Bharatanatyam dance drama production that brings the Navagrahas to life.

Smt. Vasantha Vaikunth from Muscat, Sultanate of Oman who has a keen interest in dance and Astrology used this concept to create a dance drama that brings the Navagrahas to life. “In the drama I try to capture the essence of each Graha and present a few historical/ Mythological events that best exemplify the influence of the Grahas” says Vasantha. “For example Rahu for detachment and Ketu is for Mukti marga. Scholars of astrology who have studied Buddha horoscope can see a strong influence of these Grahas “

The lyrics for the dance drama was written by Dr. Pappu Venugopal Rao who has written several dance dramas. They are in Sanskrit and Hindi. The music is by Rajesh Vaidya, a leading Vanika in Chennai, India. The vocal music is presented by Shri Hariprasad, while Shri Vijayaragavan plays the Mridangam. Smt. Kausalya Srinivasan provides the nattuvangam.

The music is a combination of Carnatic Indian classical music and north Indian folk tunes. Smt. Kausalya Srinivasan, formerly a Fulbright scholar and currently a senior fellow of Dance at Tufts University has trained teenage students in Boston area who have had several years of dance training to create the current production. “I have been watching the rehearsals and it is wonderful. I am so impressed the with the amount of hard work that is going into it. I can’t wait to see the final presentation” says Nancy Garrick, program director at Springstep, Medford, MA where the training is happening. And not only is this an opportunity to see a grand Bharatanatyam dance drama, but it is a way to support an NGO that is doing pioneering work in India. This dance drama is being held to benefit Ummeed, a non-profit organization that helps children with Developmental Disabilities in Mumbai.

What is Ummeed?

Amidst bawling babies, over active toddlers , relcacitrant teenagers and worried parents, Ummeed, a small clinic with big dreams aims to change the way we look at Disabilities today. In a country like India where Poverty, Illiteracy and Unemployment are always in the spotlight, Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy and a dedicated team of professionals are slowly but surely making inroads into offering a truly revolutionary attempt at integrated, interdisciplinary care for that most rejected, most unacknowledged section of society - the disabled child.

After her post graduation in pediatrics from Delhi, India, Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy moved to Boston, where she trained at Mass General and Children’s Hospital, Harvard University. The idea of Ummeed was born while she was working at the Children’s Hospital as a Developmental Pediatrician. The resources available at the hospital and community in Boston brought home to her the stark paucity of facilities for children with developmental disabilities in India. She relocated to India in 1998 and worked with a number of non-profit organizations as well as Hospitals while she reflected on how best to provide the range of specialized services required for children with special needs. Helped by her husband, Mr. Karamchandani, a partner of the Monitor Group (a leading global management consultancy firm), she initiated Ummeed on November 5, 2001. Ummeed is a non-profit organization (80G tax exempt status in India and 501(c)(3) IRS charity status in the US) with the explicit objective of helping children with developmental disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Learning Disability, Autism, and Attention Deficit Disorder. There are over 10 million children in India with developmental disabilities and over 150,000 in Mumbai alone. It is in this context that Ummeed aspires to provide Integrated Care.This involves the professionals working together as an interdisciplinary team. In this process, each professional works with the child individually, but meets with the rest as a team to review and compare findings, and to come to joint decisions with the family on care and management of the child. Ummeed also aims to Empower Parents to increase the impact of the care received by the child at the centre. At Ummeed, parents are actively involved in designing programs and providing care for the child. This allows the professionals to benefit from the in-depth understanding that the parent has of the child. More importantly it allows the parents to take a lead role in providing care to their child and reduces the time the professional has to spend on the child. In a country like India with limited trained resources, this has tremendous implications for optimal use of the professionals.

Most importantly, Ummeed is committed to helping children of all sections of society, irrespective of financial considerations. Financial constraint is never the reason for parents and children to not be able to access Ummeed’s care and services. Subsidized consultations and even aid in granting admission to special schools all fall under Ummeed's vast diaspora of activities.

Rapidly growing from a start-up organization seeing 5 patients a week to a unit seeing over 70 patients a week in January 2004, Ummeed also is connected to and helps over 10 NGOS such as Akanksha and Action for Autism. Professionals from Ummeed have made presentations at national and international conferences, workshops and seminars. They have given lectures in such various settings such as schools, NGOs, and groups of health care professionals in it's aim to lessen the wide gap that exists in India today regarding the causes and treatment of disabilities. In addition, Ummeed also functions in an advisory capacity for institutions like the Rehab council of India and is instrumental in training several therapists in new technologies and current treatments. So here is your chance to help a little clinic in Mumbai, India, overrun by toys and toddlers, teenagers and staff, where parents turn up at the doorstep with Ummeed (Hope in Hindi) in their hearts that this space will help their children lead more fruitful and happy lives.

Come to the grand Bharatanatyam dance drama, “Dancing Into Orbit” on Sunday, August 8, 2004 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm at the Cohen Auditorium, Talbot Ave, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155. Suggested Donation: $10 General Admission , $5 Students & Kids under 12

Directions From Rte. 93 South, Exit 32

The exit almost immediately leads to a Rotary/Traffic circle on the left. Continue straight on the exit road (effectively taking the first road off the rotary) on Rte. 60W, travel through the first light. At the second light, the road splits. Take the left fork. Stay in the right lane. Mystic Ave. will split off on the left; stay on Main St. by continuing straight. Follow Main St. to the first flashing yellow light (landmarked by a small park on the right), and make a right at that intersection onto George St. Follow George St. a very short distance to the first stop sign (a four-way stop), and make a left onto College Ave. Take College Ave over the train bridge, through the Boston Ave. intersection, and make a right onto Talbot Ave. About 200 feet down the road, Cohen Auditorium/ Aidekman Arts Center should be on your left.

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