Celebrating India & Rwanda
At a recent screening of Dancing Joy at the beautiful Sharon Forks Library in Cumming, Georgia, the nations of Rwanda and India were highlighted with live performances, book tables and appearances by the featured dancers, Jacques Nyungura representing Rwanda, and Ms. Suhasini Muthukrishnan, who created the beautiful dance sequences that represented India and who facilitated the entire event.
Dancing Joy uses the iconic music of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9—the Ode to Joy—to weave together the dance of 21 world cultures to create a powerful tribute to the brotherhood of all people, and to our common desire to live in joy.
“It was important to the purpose of the film to have dancers who were grounded in their root culture, but who also had a heart for all humanity,” explained Kate Tsubata, the film's producer. “Suhasini Muthukrishnana has a long history of using dance to build peace, giving workshops at Harvard Divinity School, University of Hawaii and many other places.”
“Jacques Nyungura was chosen because of his deep traditional roots in Rwandan culture, but also because he uses Rwandan dance to bring healing and reconciliation," she said. "Rwanda is a nation that has shown the world how to overcome the trauma of war and genocide,”
In an interview with Atlanta’s National Public Radio station, WABE, Jacques told the interviewer, Summer Evans, “I need to do something to bring joy in people. People need joy. If it’s something that is going to benefit people, I have to do it. …to have done something to make people love, to give people joy.”
Suhasini Muthukrishnan, the artistic director of the Sharmadayini Dance Academy, explained the nature of the Bharatanatyam dance she performed in the film. “This particular classical dance form has three core elements: The emotion, or Bhavam; the raga, or melody; and the rhythm, called tala," she said in the same NPR interview. "It makes it very interesting to dance, mainly focusing on communicating the history, good moral values, the culture, the temple architecture, the literature, the poetry—everything under one roof.”
The event was graced by the beautiful artistry of some 35 young dancers from the Sharmadayini Dance Academy. Performing to traditional music, and with the rich and authentic regalia, the dancers (ages 6 to 16) delighted the audience, conveying the joy that is the theme of the film.
Honoring the 21 cultures involved, the Sharon Forks Library displayed books about each culture, and about Beethoven and his music, which library patrons could browse and borrow.
Dancing Joy involved some 200 dancers scattered around the globe, and was filmed in many historic, cultural or natural scenic locations. The film crew traveled 56,000 miles to shoot all the dance, and then edited it together in time for a 2020 release—only to be interrupted by the COVID pandemic. “We have waited a long time to hold this screening and we’re so happy to finally be able to share the film with you all,” Tsubata told the assembly of some 150 guests.
Dancing Joy has won awards for cinematography, choreography, direction, production and editing from film festivals including IndieDance, Lady Filmmakers, Docs without Borders, and more.
To learn more, or to watch a trailer of the film, visit the website--and don't forget to order a copy of the film for your own cinematic library!