Hey PWB fan club! We apologize for the delay on the last blog from Varanasi.  The internet is quite slow so it took an extra week to upload 😉 haha.

And without further a due, I present to you: The Blog by Lillian Meyers……………

We are on a roll! all teaching and performing over 40 hours every week in India! The population we are working with comes from slum areas of Benares, on the banks of the holy Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh, the culture is abundant in tradition and familial commitment. The children have deep eyes, electric smiles and are delighted, eager and joyful to play!

India is intense. Benares, the burning funeral grounds of India, is especially “full power”. The roads of Benares have no rules, as we dodge chai wallas,  honking motor bikes, migrating herds of jurassic pooping water buffalo on thirty year old bikes. Not to mention on our backs the 3 meters of canvas, bags of diablos, juggling clubs, peacock feathers, plus a hitch hiking student on the wheel’s rim. Fortunately, all of our training has built our calves like a water buffalo.

PWB also volunteered with the Duniya School. A new addition to the PWB curriculum this year is circus set design, with a focus on painting, led by Lilli Myers. The Duniya School co-collaborated on a beautiful community acrylic mural on a 2 x 4 meter canvas based off of images Mithila artists from India and Nepal. The painting depicts an episode of a river crossing from the great epic of the Ramayana. We placed the characters on the Ganga swimming with fish and plastic chip wrappers. Grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and the college level beauticians all painted together, which made almost 100 sets of hands! Community set painting and mural making develops small motor skills, builds community, strengthens focus, inner stillness, creativity. See images below.

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Our final project in Benares culminated in the annual school performance with Asha Deep Vinya Ashram Elementary and Primary school. The circus acts were intermixed with a beautiful variety of school dances, song and theater, including a traditional Indian music and dance piece celebrating the color festival of Holi. The circus acts included juggling, staff, clown, musical theater, hoop, the “happy dance” and poi. We ended with a beautiful fire show included fire palms, fire fans, juggling clubs, poi and staff. The audience included over 400 family and community members from Benares. The outcome was a powerful learning experience for the kids and teachers alike!

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How can we pin point the ripple effect of teaching and cultivating art in young people, many of whom life will be full of economic struggle? How can we foresee the life paths of these blossoming artists, budding teachers, on the banks of the Ganga River? How will their  art work move within their communities? One such group of 13 year-olds, self-named The Happy Talent Group, form their identity within juggling and circus. As the circus packs up and leaves town, heading to Darjeeling, we bid them farewell at our front gate and said, “This world needs you as artists, and teachers, and you can make money doing it! Go out and rock on!” They smile, sad to see the weird circus leave town, hesitant to leave. As the world shifts and turns, as the global climate crisis increases, the work of bringing young people together, and facilitating collaboration, creativity, art and joy, feels invaluable.

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