Saturday, November 20, 2004


We go to see Rase teach her dance class at her home studio in Soram Leirak. She had promised Saturday would be a class for Homos as she cheerfully call her gay students. That’s what gay boys here call themselves too. Homos. With some rancor at the homophobia I am sure, but also empowering without being ironic. I love that.

Maybe some of the boys were gay but there were mostly girls. We sit on the floor on reed mats, except for Les and Mike who sit on stools on account of their bad knees. Rase puts them through the routine. She seems to be perfomance-bent so I keep insisting that she continue teaching: correcting, stopping, repeating, whatever. The dancers are good.

They perform portions of Basanta Ras. A shaman dance for weavers. The Cricket Dance of the Kabuis. I give short commentaries. A public education piece on HIV/AIDS.

Mike leans over and says she finds them looking so Indonesian. I look. She is right. Funny I didn’t really see this before. I have always talked about the affinity with Southeast Asia but without any images in my mind really, just abstractions.

My friends ask question and take notes diligently in their little Flower School notebooks. Rase replies to me. I ask her to face them answer them directly. Long sentences, not mere a Yes, a No, an Uh-huh. She is not used to this. But then getting Manipuris to speak directly to strangers about themselves, their work, their concerns and aspirations is Objective One for the Manipuri side of the project. I am pleased.

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