In the initial excitement and glow of our book idea, we came up with a number of child-friendly topics on India and started writing away. India is so rich and diverse in its culture that there are just so many subjects one could write about.
Within a week or two, we had drafts for four board books! Only drafts and keep in mind the content in board books is probably less than one-full page of a “grown-up” book.
We decided that before going crazy writing and publishing a ten-board book series on India, we should test the waters with one book. But what topic should we go with?
Since we are both notoriously easy-going and diplomatic (read: relatively indecisive), we decided to share our topics with Alyssa, our fab illustrator, and let her decide what motivates her the most.
Thanks in large part to Alyssa, our first board book is on…can you stand the anticipation :P….DANCES OF INDIA!
Below are thoughts from each of us on choosing this topic:
Alyssa (the illustrator and decider for this : )
When I joined the project, there were four really awesome topics ready to go. When I was at Wellesley, I was part of a cultural dance group that focused on teaching my culture through dance performances throughout the academic year. Dances are quick and exciting ways of telling a story and every country, region and culture has come up with their own way of telling stories. I love dance and I felt like Indian dance was a perfect introduction to India, the sisters and the book series in general.
It was 2nd grade. I was awkwardly but excitedly working with a professional choreographer to come up with a 4-minute dance to “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. For the school talent show. I thought I was fly. Seriously. My mom, who’s now a filmmaker, had actually been a modern dancer in a previous life. So, she introduced me to her super talented friends and to the concept of the studio. And, I never looked back. I loved to dance as a kid – as a buffoon emerging from Mother Ginger’s skirt in The Nutcracker and in my room in front of the mirror. Of course, I still love to dance. And, encourage regular dance-offs with my husband and son in the kitchen that often entail Bollywood’s greatest combined with a mix of Bhangra beats. There’s something so freeing, refreshing, and energizing about the art form. Not to mention the innate and wonderful diversity that accompanies it, especially in countries like India that are almost defined by it…in all its incredibly varying forms. The subtle and not to subtle movements and melodies. Dance plays such a significant role in culture, and in Indian culture in particular, that it only made sense to start with it. 🙂
Malini (Mal or Mals in some parts):
Well, those of you who know me may think that I bribed Alyssa given my love and background in dance, but I promise that I didn’t! 🙂 Yet, I will say that I was THRILLED that she chose this topic, and images for the book almost immediately began dancing around in my head without the use of illicit substances. 🙂 As Kyra said above, there is something incredible about being able to express in this way. It has the power to open one up in a very profound way. Though my performance days might be over, dance is always with me. I am also happy to report that from the looks of it, my son might very well continue this legacy. He whips out some serious moves. Given that there are so many distinctive and beautiful classical and folk dance forms in India, it was truly heartbreaking for me to have to choose a few dance forms to highlight in this board book for young children. But I think we offered a good balance that will capture (hopefully) the essence of its significance in the country, and to all of us.
As you can tell, we are excited. We would love to hear your thoughts about dance in India, what dance means to you, or anything else you would like to share!