My name is Chiarra. I am 23 years old, and I live in the busy city of Mumbai in India. I also had the chance to perform at the recent Genfest in Manila. Our group from India was made up of more than 50 people – all from the zone of India, which also included youth participants from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
As a team we had never done the rehearsals together before. It wasn’t possible due to the distance and time constraints and our life as a whole.
My journey with the dance group started in February 2018, a month after I was informed that I would be participating in the Genfest. At first, the idea seemed impossible to realize. The plan as choreographed by three gen from Mumbai and for Mumbai was a strange one to me. Our state of Maharashtra is home to a wide diversity of cultures, religions and of course, to our dearly beloved Bollywood, the Indian Hindi-language film industry.
As the rehearsals went on, one of the major issues we had to face was finding enough time, and energy to show up. But as the main day grew closer and closer, we tried
to synergize with each other’s ideas, beliefs and attitudes towards the dance, so much so that the importance of performing together began to impress itself more clearly on us.
Those practices were like a five month Pre-Genfest for us. Working out the script, making our costumes, perfecting the movements and co- operating with each other was both a challenge and a joy. Each one of us wanted what was best for the others and for the whole performance.
At a certain point, we were still unable to finish and perfect the dance. None of us was available for practice, so presenting to the organizers a full video of the performance was hard. Consequently, we were informed that even though we had practiced, we might not have the chance to perform. We took this as a push to become more serious and give even more than we had done so far. We got together and did the video, then sent it. Suspense was in the air as we waited for the organizers response.
Then we continued practicing in the hopes that we would get the go signal. We got it!
After obtaining that YES to our presentation, many of us left for the Philippines early to have a taste of what it would be like to be in Manila and what to expect. We all finally reached Manila on July 4, ready to perform for the first time ever, the whole performance as the zone of India together with other youth from Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Those first moments rehearsing together were slow going but enriching. Though we had each practiced the same movements, we had our own differences, styles and energy levels.
As we continued with our dress rehearsals, the day before the concert, everything that should not have happened took place. Our jewellery props broke, a few of us slipped during the dance and we seemed to be out of balance and out of place.
The morning of the 6th was spent correcting the missteps and overcoming the mistakes of the night before, hoping for the best. As we drew closer to the last hour and completed the finishing touches to make-up, pinning up the sarees and forming everything together added to last-minute jitters.
The great moment came and went in a flash. Living that moment made me understand the importance of living well each present moment and experiencing the joy each second contains, as well as the love each person will be able to feel if I, together with others, use well the gift of time.
That moment on stage before 6,000 people and being video-streamed world-wide will not come back. But living it with every one of that 6,000-strong audience, and with each Gen from the zone of India, will be one of the most cherished moments of my life.