A World of Stories

Following yesterday’s weather terror, Larry and I forged ahead into West Hartford for our annual collaboration of AIMI/NDI/St. Jos. The celebration in song and dance is forcing me into the thesaurus for superlatives. It seems that each production improves on those that came before. “Storytelling Around the World” not only featured the best in performance and of course stories; it also allowed the various organizations to expand their multi-cultural horizons.

My sister-in-law Deb Petruzzello narrated most of the stories with verve and great style. She had assists from Shamala Raman and guests from the China Welfare Institute in Shanghai. The stories came from Mexico, Japan, Mali, India, and China and promoted the idea of storytelling as a way to heal anger and fill one’s life with joy and love.

The best of the stories involved Malian teen William Kamkwamba, who created a windmill from leftover parts, including a pair of flip-flops. His creation helped save the country during a period of severe drought and now supplies reliable power for people to recharge their cell phones.

The guest stars from China are part of a cultural exchange program and provided the most visually arresting performances of the evening. “The Red Thread” is based on the belief that everyone who is intended to meet is joined at birth by an invisible red thread. The dance involved long pieces of red silk launched by a dancer in white. They flowed and circled around the others and united them at the end in a cats-cradle of interwoven beauty. The dance reminded me of the graceful and gorgeous House of Flying Daggers. (See the last paragraph of “Napa’s Open Studios.”)

On its ever expanding cultural tour, NDI takes its great work next into Juarez. I wish them safe passage.

Runner up in visual display was the Lord Krishna in his fuchsia and gold outfit, who stood out against the many dancers representing the blue-green water serpent Kaliya.

Interstitial pieces featured the Tiny Tots (the youngest, age three, who only removed his thumb from his mouth once in his several appearances) and Finbar the pug, whose costumes transformed him into a rabbit and a zebra. I personally felt he looked embarrassed in his rabbit outfit. After all, what self-respecting dog would willingly pass himself off as a bunny? Deb should be given a special award for actually handling the pooch, since this woman who is otherwise a model of female self-reliance and toughness, will not normally go within ten feet of any sort of four-legged creature and has been known to run screaming at the sight of a deer.

The only regret, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, is that the performers and teachers work so hard and intensively for only two brief performances. Wish they could stick around and spread the joy for several more days.

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