Without togetherness no joy of joys
Akka Mahadevi’s quote in the title invokes Tomas Bünger's memory of his time in Bangladesh as mentor and head of the Young Choreographers’ Platform
Suddenly, there was no joy and no togetherness anymore.
Being a freelance artist in Europe is different from being a freelance artist in Bangladesh. There is financial support in these times, which at least helps to pay the rent and have enough money to buy food. Being a freelance artist in Bangladesh in these times means facing a completely uncertain future with no support at all.
My life is sharing my art with other people, and I feel honoured that I have friends and students in Bangladesh.
Joy is definitely something you can learn in Bangladesh when you come from Europe. People enjoy togetherness.
Living means sharing your life with other people, and we miss this tremendously.
I can still feel the heat and the joy of sharing the water after dancing many hours together. I hope that some of these young people can fulfil their dreams of being a dancer. Back in Dhaka, I noticed how I was looking differently at my students, imagining where they all came from to dance in Dhaka. Our relationship grew stronger.
"You have to come back," one of my students said, and I did.
In November 2019, I was invited as a teacher to the first Ocean Dance Festival in Cox's Bazar, and I was happy to see many of my students from Dhaka. They all came running when I arrived, and it ended in a big hug. How can you ever compare this with the virtual world?
With the great support of the Goethe-Institut in Dhaka, we could at least organize a young choreographers´ platform from home, created and filmed out of the present moment, shown in the internet with beautiful results. But it also shows what we miss. Living in the present moment is maybe a Bangladeshi talent, but the future lies in darkness.
What will bring this situation to these young talents who chose being an artist with all the uncertainty that belongs to this decision? There are no jobs anymore, no income, and no perspective. I truly believe that the work we have done is important.
May this togetherness and this joy come to life again, and may these beautiful dancers not be forgotten in this serious situation. In good times they represent the culture, the identity, and the hope of this country, in bad times they should be protected.