Israeli dancer choreographs tribute to Delhi gang rape victim

The December 2012 brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old in Delhi has touched a chord with a group of dancers from abroad, who are launching a project to train local women to dance and perform with them in schools and colleges across India.

The project managed by Israeli choreographer, dancer and teacher, Shaked Dagan assembles a cast of women, representing five countries (Israel, Denmark, USA, Poland, Canada) and different performative and artistic fields (music, dance, theatre, video art and more).

For a period of two months, the group plans to stay in the village of Challal in Himachal Pradesh, and create a performance piece to be performed in schools, and open shows for audiences around India.

"At this point of time in my career I needed to change my path and follow my dreams. When the project was being formulated by me the gang rape incident on December 16 took place, which shook not only me but the entire world outside India and I suddenly found my project's aim which was women empowerment which I would want to do through dance and spread awareness among people," says Shaked.

The troupe of seven women includes Ayelet Yekutiel from Israel, Carson Reiners from US, Birgitte Lundtoft from Denmark, Keren Bossin from Israel, Kaeridwyn Newman from Canada and Monika Smekot from Poland. Dagan says her teammates will undergo a formal training in Indian classical dance and vocals.

"A few Indian classical dancers and vocalists have come forward to help us train and we plan to train for atleast 10 to 15 days and adapt ourselves accordingly," says the choreographer.

This unique project to empower women through dance and music is also being made into a documentary by an Israeli documentary filmmaker, Eyal Ben Zeev.

"The entire workshop and our daily living and surviving in Himachal will be documented by him from Day 1," says Shaked.

The young choreographer is hopeful that people will come forward to see their performance and if it is a success in India then she would like to take her troupe across the world to sensitise the people about women empowerment and will hold such projects across the world.

"My main focus is right now India, because it is the need of the hour to spread the message of women empowerment more.

These cases from India never used to be flashed in the Western media but now the gangrape case being spread across the world by media has opened our eyes and we need to do something about it. What better way to make people understand is through dance and music," says Shaked.

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