Adventures Abroad / by Anjal Chande

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2017 has been an action-packed, emotion-packed year for me, and in its waning months, I find myself breathing in the cold, autumn air and kicking around the burnt-orange maple leaves on the cobblestone sidewalks of Berlin, Germany. This is where I live now, and so begin my adventures abroad.  

People ask me what I’m doing here, what’s the Fulbright, why Berlin. In short, the answer is that I’m here to research creative community, and what makes Berlin a particularly vibrant hub for artists from all over the globe. I’ll be doing this from the inside out, as a practicing dance artist immersed in Berlin’s creative scene, and also, from the outside looking in, as an academic reflecting on the larger urban history that has shaped this lively city. If you want to know more about my project, click over here.

During my time abroad, one of my endeavors is to dance a lot and dance routinely, and in doing so, deepen my artistic practice. I’ve begun documenting biweekly improvisation sessions on Instagram, so you can follow me there to get glimpses of that journey. I have found improvisation to be an essential tool for better distilling my own artistic voice. It allows me to make art that is of the moment and very much in tune with what I feel each day. Improvisation, and sharing it publicly as terrifying as that feels every time I do it, is also a testament to the importance I give to play, to the un-polished and un-produced, and to the spirit of spontaneous creation.  

Another goal of mine, while I’m away from the structured obligations of being in the U.S., is to continue pondering how I can be of service to others in creating nurturing spaces for empowered self-expression. I’m obsessed with this pursuit actually and have been at it for a decade (e.g. Soham Dance Space), but I know there are compelling dimensions to creative community building that I have not yet examined nor learned how to implement. I have some curious ideas up my sleeves, and I know my time abroad will give me new ways of thinking about shaping the infrastructure that allows for art and creativity to be a part of everyday life.

I feel enormously grateful and privileged and amazed to be abroad for this year-long adventure. Berlin is such a mind-blowing collision point between centuries of intense history and contemporary politics, and I couldn’t have landed in a more thought-provoking terrain. I truly hope that all I reap from this year of exploration, growth, and the unknown will be something I can pay forward big time. So far, it’s been awesome out here, and there’s a lot more to come!