Christian Long

Mallika Sarabhai: Dance to Change the World

In TED Talks on April 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Mallika Sarabhai:  Dance to Change the World

When I first saw the title “Dance to Change the World,” I immediately put that video near the top of my list of the videos I wanted to write about. I ended up getting that video, and I was thrilled. As a dancer, anything that showcases the art is interesting to me.

Or so I thought.

I watched the video, and the speaker didn’t exactly grab my attention. I kept watching, hoping to see some of this dancing that would change the world. The dancing Mallika Sarabhai did was perhaps considered dance from her perspective, but to me it seemed more like storytelling with the added drama of fake blood smeared across her face. In fact, this dance is more like a monologue–which is not a bad thing–but it is not a dance by my definition, or by traditional definitions for that matter.

Besides the misleading title and the speaker being inept at captivating my attention, the message behind all the superficial flaws was, indeed, powerful. She explained how art is what breaks through prejudice or disinterest and allows an important issue to be exposed, and hopefully, addressed.

In a way, Sarabhai proved her own point simply by titling her peace “Dance to Change the World.” Had she titled it more in line with her talk, it would unlikely have caught my initial attention.

A particular point that stood out to me after reading the transcript was the fact that dance, song, and art break down language barriers. She explained how in America, in France, and even in Africa her audience seemed to understand her message even if they did not speak the same language.

Sarabhai also got it right when she said that the media controls our society. The question is, if we had the right minds in control of the media, would our society be better? If, for example, we had commercials for local farms or markets rather than fast food, would our society be healthier as a result? It seems logical that what we see everyday in the media reflects the state of our society and the decisions we choose to make. Or perhaps our society tries to reflect what the media portrays it as.

Besides the disappointment I initially faced while watching the video, there certainly are ‘ideas worth spreading’ embedded within the talk. As a viewer, you simply have to peel back the superficial layers to get to the good stuff.

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