"It's clear how deeply you touched peoples' lives. You are an outstanding ambassador of L.A. and the U.S.!"
- Dan Kwong, performance artist
As an intercultural artist, Sheetal investigates and mines the meeting points between seemingly disparate music and dance traditions, cultures, concepts and identities. Using music and dance as a common language, communities that would otherwise not have any reason to interact are forced to learn about each other, past the stereotypes that usually keep us apart and misunderstood. These types of residencies are an opportunity to participate in a longer and more intensive engagement with Sheetal; to develop a creative process that addresses issues vital and pertinent to the specific population at hand.
If you have a project in mind or would like to brainstorm with Sheetal on how she might interact with your community, reach out!
AMSTERDAM - Black Magic Woman Festival and Cultural Exchange International (CEI) Working with Surinamese-Hindustani Communities in Holland
In 2012, Gandhi received the Cultural Exchange International (CEI) Fellowship from the Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs in support of a four week residency at The Bijlmer ParkTheater in Amsterdam. Gandhi worked with the Surinamese Hindustani community as well as other people of Indian origin to create dialogue around their unique experiences and feelings of being Indian and of living in an Indian diaspora. Through a series of workshops with Gandhi, volunteers were guided through a process where they shared their personal stories, engaged in critical dialog, participated in movement explorations, and ultimately brought it all onto the stage to share with others. The group explored and found ways to creatively express the complexities of living between two cultures, the Dutch and the Hindustani, and the particular intergenerational issues that come up between parents and kids.
ISRAEL - Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues
In 2008 and 2009, Gandhi was invited to Tel Aviv, Israel for “Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues”, an Education Exchange Project of the Los Angeles/Tel Aviv Partnership. Gandhi taught a 2 week course called Contemporary Kathak and choreographed on pre-professional contemporary dancers at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance in Tel Aviv. She was also invited to present an excerpt of her one-woman show, Bahu-Beti-Biwi.
INDIA - Development of BBB
The development of Gandhi’s solo dance-theater show, Bahu-Beti-Biwi, was partially based on her research and interpretations of a genre of songs that women sing in North India. During July and August of 2007, Gandhi lived with two women from two different hereditary musician castes in the desert regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Her essential focus was to reveal the depth and complexity of a woman’s experience by choreographically illuminating the various realities that these women express in their songs. By immersing herself in these communities, she had the opportunity to learn and record their songs as well as better understand what the songs mean for them.
GHANA - One year study abroad
In 1993, guided by an instinct inspired by a deep love for rhythm, Gandhi boarded a plane for Ghana, West Africa to study their traditional music and dance for one year. In Ghana, Gandhi’s talent was recognized by master drummer/dancer Habib Iddrisu. Habib invited Gandhi to join his company, The Novisi Cultural Troupe, where she learned and performed complex dances and drum rhythms from various parts of West Africa. It was the first time that Ghanaians would see a foreigner perform traditional dances alongside other Ghanaians.
Gandhi traveled with the troupe from local villages and Chief’s funerals to tourist events and the American Embassy. She also set original dances on the company, completing the circle of a true cultural exchange. Gandhi learned to play the Calabash, a dried gourd known as mani. She learned the rhythms and songs associated with the mani, traditionally played and sung by the women from the Dagbamba region in Northern Ghana. She also plays the West African Xylophone.
APPEX 2010 - Asian Pacific Performance Exchange Program
A 3-week intensive residency in Bali, Indonesia. Sheetal was selected as an APPEX fellow and joined 15 other master dancers and musicians from countries around the Asia Pacific Rim. The rich, interactive workshop environment of APPEX provides artists with the opportunity to develop the ability to collaborate across discipline and culture; learn mutual and self-reflective critical techniques; and initiate life-long friendships and professional networks.