Spreading Smiles, Breaking Stereotypes

Ismail Roqai Chaoui is 23 years old and is from Morocco. This year he decided to
take a break from university to travel around Asia. Having a very limited budget, he uses hitchhiking for his transportation and that helps him to know more about the culture of the countries he visits. He documents his travelling experiences in his blog I Smile Around TheWorld.

What inspired you to start the blog-I Smile Around The World?

I always loved to travel and discover other countries, other cultures. When I travel, I try to live in the local way. That starts with little things like taking city buses or eating in popular places. I also hitchhike and find local hosts using the website Couchsurfing.

That helps me understand how the locals live and I learn a lot about the culture and the country this way. My blog is a tool I use to share this vision of traveling. I write about what I do, but mostly about the people I meet. I try to break stereotypes. People are more and more scared about others. That fear starts with lack of knowledge of the other cultures. For example when I decided to go to Russia and to Siberia, some of my friends told me : "Are you crazy to go there ! People are very racist in that country; you will not be safe etc..." But I only met very friendly and helpful people there and got one of the biggest support of my trip in Siberia. Some of them even spent their day off helping me get out some bureaucratic issue. Instead of being leery and suspicious, I try to trust in every person I meet and that makes my experience of traveling much richer.

Of all the places you've been, which country have you found to be the most hospitable?

It is hard to choose one country. In every country I have been to, people opened their homes to me and treated me like family. Everyone I have met has been incredible with me especially when I talked to them about my project. They make this question really hard for me... I will pass!

What has been the greatest joy of your journey so far?

My biggest joy was fifteen days after I had a motorbike accident in Vietnam. I had several injuries, broke my left arm and had to wear a plaster cast for six weeks. But the hardest part was that I had to stop hitchhiking because my movements were limited. For me, it meant also I had to abandon one of the purposes of my trip. But after fifteen days, I felt like I could hitchhike again even if that would be a big challenge. So I did, and it worked! It was one of the greatest feelings of my life! I felt like I was reborn again and I almost cried of joy in the truck! Nothing could stop me at that moment! Since that day, I use hitchhiking every time I have to go from a city to another!

What have been the biggest challenges?

My biggest challenge is not to get lazy, always be curious to discover new places, new cultures. Every day is a chance to discover new things and to meet new people with sometimes incredible stories. When I had my motorbike accident in Vietnam, I had to rethink my travel. I had to change all my plans to adapt my journey to my physical condition but keep my objective to always discover more. I also work hard on my blog to share these experiences and conceal it traveling is also one of my biggest challenge.

Was there ever a time you wanted to quit and go home?

I sometimes miss my family and friends of course. But the idea of quitting had never crossed my mind. I am living something I dreamt of for a long time.

Do you agree traveling opens your mind and heart to the world’s challenges?

Of course! The globalization is a reality. The world is getting smaller and smaller. Understanding the different cultures is a start to understanding the challenges of the world today. All my experiences made me realize the importance of strengthening the dialogue between civilizations. Instead of building walls, we should build bridges between people of different communities, religions, and cultures. In that way, we can learn how to live together and face the different challenges the world is facing.

What was the greatest lesson you’ve learned on your travels?

The greatest lesson I have learned on my travels is that from one community to another, there are more similarities than differences. No matter the country, religion, or color of the skin people aspire for the same things, and have the similar joys, sorrows and fears. I learned how to trust people and be more confident about myself.

What advice would you give to young people who are thinking about going travelling, but may be feeling uncertain or intimidated?

Traveling, especially alone, may be intimidating. People can be afraid of the unknown and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. But getting out of this comfort zone has many benefits. It helps to be more confident and do things you would never think possible before. Traveling is the best way to learn about others and about yourself. I learned more in the passenger seat of a car than in any university class I have been to.


The Face in the Mirror

Briana Banos graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in English and minors in Anthropology and Mass Communications. She worked as a performer and aerialist with a cruise ship line before she began showing signs of Red Skin Syndrome. Once into her withdrawal, Briana sought to raise awareness about her condition. Through social media, she used her voice and pictures to show others of this extremely traumatic, yet preventable, syndrome.

She has been featured on The Doctors show, as well as accompanied ITSAN (The International Topical Steroid Addiction Network) to Capitol Hill in Sept. 2016 to help build bridges in the dermatology community.

Her biggest hope with Preventable: Protecting Our Largest Organ is to bring awareness to the medical community and patients about Red Skin Syndrome and to spur a reform in how topical steroids are utilized.
Tell me about the emotional/psychological impact of red skin?
As time goes on with this condition, the emotional pain and destruction is almost worse than the physical pain. In the beginning, we are focused on the physical because it is the most prominent thing, but when the healing is slow or we find friends and family start to doubt the process, or if it takes away our job or a relationship we are in, the loss of identity sets in. You become so anxious with every encounter, you can't look people in the eye, you start to doubt yourself, the hopelessness can set it, and ultimately, your self-confidence is no longer present. And even when you are healed from this, that anxiety doesn't just go away. You are scarred, and there is a fear that may never leave when it comes to steroids. I know for me the thought of needing a future surgery or if I am ever in a life or death situation and am told I need a steroid to survive, I think the first thought in my mind will be the immense suffering that drug has caused me instead of thinking about my life being saved. That, in itself, is what we are robbed of when we are steroid-dependent. This drug will no longer be a comfort to us in times it is truly needed, but a deep-rooted distress. 
What would you tell anyone going through a condition that affects their looks?
It's never easy to look in the mirror and not recognize the person staring back at you. It's a sadness that you can see in your eyes, like part of you has died. But, you know what? Looks pale in comparison to the remarkable strength you are gaining through this process. And when you are on the other side of this, you not only get your looks back, but you have transformed into an invincible human being who overcame heartbreaking loss and agony. It tore me up inside the day I shaved my head because I allowed my looks to define a part of who I was as a person, and that's ok, but we must realize that we are so much more than our outer beauty. During this time, let your inner beauty shine. Let these dark hours transform you from within. Focus on that aspect instead of the physical and I think you will be a much stronger and more resilient person for it. 

Where did you find support?
I found support in the arms of my family, my friends, and the online community. I am very fortunate to have a family that stood by me 100% and that never allowed me to drown in the physical or mental anxieties. They were compassionate and never made me feel ugly or unloved. And yes, I am now divorced from my husband which happened during this difficult healing time, but even he never once made me feel that I was disgusting or gross. As important as it is to have support for the physical aspect of this condition, the mental is just as important. The online community is definitely there for the mental support of this. It's amazing to be connected to thousands of men and woman who know exactly what you are going through. 

Briana Banos with
Kolkata-based Dr Koushik Lahiri.
Do they know why getting off steroids triggered this reaction?
With anyone curious to my health condition, I try my very best to explain why I have Red Skin Syndrome. Since I am a huge advocate, most all of my family and friends know why topical steroids should not be abused or overprescribed. 

What would you tell someone thinking about using steroids for a skin condition?
 Steroids are such a strong drug and do not get rid of the cause of why your skin is irritated. Is it a bandaid masking the true problem and, if over used, it can create even more problems that are bigger than the reason you began using them in the first place. If someone really wants to fix their skin, then they need to see a doctor who will take their time and truly invest care into a patient. You could have an allergy problem or a contact allergy to something, could be weather triggered, stress triggered, could be an infection, could be leaky gut... so many things you can test out before rubbing a steroid on the skin. 
What do people from the medical or pharmaceutical establishments think about your campaign? Have you come up against resistance?
I haven't encountered resistance to any pharmaceutical companies yet since I am still a very small cog in the machine when it comes to spreading awareness. Have I received resistance in general? Oh, yeah. I've had my fair share of mean comments or pushy comments on my YouTube channel. And I'm sure any pharmaceutical company who sells a steroid would combat our stories as much as possible since it would be devastating to their sales, but I'm hoping as time goes on, the public will become more educated and advocate for themselves and stop relying on these types of drugs. Steroids are not the problem, it's the excessive and blanketed way we use them for everything. They were never meant to be utilized in such a fashion. 
Do we have alternatives to steroids? What are the pros and cons of those?
There are definitely alternatives out in the world other than steroids for our skin problems. Alternative medicine has been coming a long way and integrative medicine is a mix of both worlds. These avenues may take longer than conventional medicine, but they can be safer and better for the body. As of right now, there are other Western drugs as well that are being researched and used on eczema and psoriasis patients instead of steroids. However, they are very new and could also come with dangerous side effects in the long haul. It's up to the discretion of the patient to use these drugs. If someone needs to be able to provide for their family and continue living life, then one of these newer drugs may be a better option for them. 

What we need, in general, is better patient care and more time understanding that each and every human is made differently. One thing will not work for everyone. 

"Miha Rodman: Passion for Truth"..

Miha Rodman, is a leading Slovenian actor, with  major credits on stage. As part of the Prešeren Theatre  Company in Kranj, Miha has toured all over Europe with  theatre shows, winning multiple awards.

He was recently cast as the  main supporting role in the  feature $lm Amre (2018)  directed by Je- Vespa, starring  alongside Abbie Cornish, Sanjar  Madi and Ben Aldridge. Recently he was here to perform  'The Jewish Dog'  directed by Yonatan Esterkin at the Kalindi Bratyajon's sixth International Theatre Festival.

Pic courtesy - http://www.miharodman.com/
What excites you about theatre?

Oscar Wilde said "I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." What excites me is the energy and connection with the audience that happens during a play or performance. The power an actor has, that there in that moment and time, he can effect the audience , change them in a way.

You have acted in several films. Is it easy for you to switch between mediums? What are the advantages and challenges that come with each?

For me acting is acting. No matter if it is infront of a live audience or a camera. You always try to give them the truth. Make them believe. But, when you are on stage I feel an actor has more control over the whole performance. You go from beginning to the end without stopping. And you know exactly what your character is going to go through. While on film, a lot is done in the editing room. Scenes are shot in different timing, so you might shoot the end of the film on your first day of filming, then the beginning and on your last day you shot the middle. So it's harder to keep your characters story in check.

Pic courtesy - http://www.miharodman.com/
As an actor, what kind of opportunity excites you? Is it working with a certain kind of director? Is it a certain kind of screenplay?

I find the most important thing for me is the people involved in the process. If I know the director and co-actors are good and there is a creative energy between us then I know the end product will be something we can be proud of. I always see myself not just as an actor acting in a film or play,  but as  a collaborator working with a team. Always thinking and searching for new ideas how and why to better the project. Sometimes directors won't let you get too involved in the development process and those kind of project I try to stay away from.

What was a great moment for you as an actor?

Last year a got a chance to act in my first Hollywood movie along side a big director and some incredibly talented actors. It was the first time I was in such a big international project and it felt amazing and very creative. The director allowed me to fully take control of my character and there were a lot of things we ended up changing from the original script. I can't tell you more at this moment as it is still in post production. But hopefully it will come out next year and I can't wait to see it. Be on the lookout ... 

One film character you would love to play...

Oh, there are so many brilliant characters written and already played. I don't think I would like to play a character that was already performed by another actor. Then people always compare the two and I hate that. A character always comes from within the actor and of course they are always different. But who is to say which is better? Who is more "right"? Otherwise I would love to portray any character of Quentin Tarantino. I think his characters are just genius and so much fun for an actor.

How challenging was it to play in The Jewish Dog? What do you hope the audience will get out of this play?

The Jewish Dog was a very tough process for me physically and mentally. Firstly, because we only had one month to prepare the play in two languages – Slovenian and English. My director Yonatan Esterkin came from Isreal to do the play and so we only had this small window of time. And secondly because of the enormous amount of text. It is about 40 pages of just text for one language so around 80 pages altogether. I had a different theater premiere just two days before and therefore didn't have any time to prepare before we started. We planned our rehearsals to try to do 4 pages each day. We needed to go through the text and clean it a bit, stage it, develop different characters and accents, work on the emotional journey of my characters and then I would go home and study. We worked eight to ten hours a day, every day, even weekends. And on the final day, on the day of the premiere, we finally got to the end. It was nerve wrecking. But the show was a great success and the audience in Slovenia and abroad seems to love it. I hope it touches the audience and shows them man-kind from a different perspective. A dogs perspective, but it is only a metaphore. A dog does not understand racism, war, etc.. he only sees the world as good or bad. To give food or not to give food, to help or not to help. I wish more people could see the world in that way.

Do you think film training is important for theatre students?

I think any kind of education for actors is necessary. An actor needs to learn different techniques and tools that he can use in his work. I studied at the Slovenian National Academy for Theatre, which focuses mostly on theatre acting. I took it upon myself to get the training needed for film. Applying to different courses and workshops. Film acting is very different from theatre acting, and there are a lot of »tricks« that an actor must know how to use. But someone needs to teach you. Also there are a lot of good books on film acting that students can find online, and a lot of material can be found on YouTube and the internet. You don't need to spend a lot of money for courses. But you must make a plan and study. And enjoy the process with all your heart.

Kathak is not only an art, but also a philosophy of life

Nathalie Masson is a Kathak dancer born in Geneva (Switzerland), the city of Calvinus. At a young age she started training in classical dance and modern jazz. After several years trying different dance styles, she realized that her beloved style was Bollywood dance that she practiced for some years.
Then, during a Kathak dance workshop in Geneva, she met the dancer who was soon to become her guru, Smt. Sushmita Banerjee, a celebrated Kathak exponent (belonging to the Lucknow Gharana) based in Kolkata, and the sparks flew. Since then she is totally focused on Kathak and she had the incredible opportunity to follow with her guru the traditional way of teaching: guru-shishya paramparā. She currently travels several times a year to Kolkata in order to attend Smt. Sushmita Banerjee’s teaching and to participate in Kathak performances across the country.

She has launched her own association in 2017 (Vidhya - Cultural Association) to promote Indian arts, and she also performs Kathak in Geneva and surroundings in the local scenes with the aim of letting a larger audience discover and appreciate this ancient art.

How familiar were you with Kathak before you started 
learning it?

Being raised in Europe, I was exposed to classical dance such as ballet and modern dance. I had no exposure to Kathak at all. I discovered it when I did my first workshop in Geneva in 2007.

What / who inspired you to take up Kathak?

My guru-ji Sushmita Banerjee inspired me when she taught me my first Kathak items in the first Geneva workshop. She noticed that I was staying back and asked me to come forward upon noticing my expressions in the thumri item. In this workshop I fell in love with this dance and its richness.

What’s the core spirit of Kathak as you feel it?

I feel the spirit of Kathak is dual between the technical (nritta) and expression (nritya) parts, and between tandav (Shiv, masculine) and lasya (Parvati, feminine). The entire art of Kathak is striking a balance between these two energies (as it is believed it happens with the world itself in oriental beliefs such as Taoism).

Learning Kathak is a lot of hard work and requires perseverance. How challenging were your initial days?

In my case the real challenge came when we did our first workshop in the summer of Kolkata. Coming from Geneva in Switzerland the very first hurdle was the weather with extreme temperatures. Of course adaptation to the Bengali culture (language, food, customs) was required (I am happy to report that after almost ten years coming regularly to Kolkata, I have become almost half-Bengali).

Definitely from the perspective of a western artist one of the main challenges is the need for repeated and persistent practice before results start to show: there is really little instant gratification, which is a challenge I guess particularly for the new generations (even in India, I am sure). As the saying goes, the pleasure comes first in drops and then you swim into the ocean.

Any memorable dance performances?

Of course my very first performance in India (Shilparamam in Hyderabad) will always remain special. Not only was it the first performance, but it also turned out to be a solo performance in a quite big amphitheater, which made the challenge all the more daunting and rewarding.
Another performance that will always stay in my memory was one concert we did with my guru-ji in the jail of Calicut. It was extremely humbling to perform before the entire population of the jail (or at least what looked like it!), feeling that through our performance the inmates were getting a glimpse of the light and freedom they were missing.

Finally, my most recent performance in ICCR in May 2017 will also be always memorable, because it allowed me to present my first choreographic work, ‘The 7th sense’. Coming from a performance in Geneva the week before, we had very little time to finish the last details of the choreography with guru-ji, which once more added to the thrills and the satisfaction brought by the performance, particularly taking into account the very good response it elicited from the audience.

What do you think on experiments in Kathak?

I am ok with experiments, as long as they come from experts in the classic Kathak field wishing to push the limits of the expression that the classical form can provide.

However, I feel there is currently a trend for people that are far from proficient in dance to experiment for the sake of the experimenting, with no real goal of enriching the art, but more to create an impression and provide a sort of ‘pop kathak’ (also with commercial goals in mind, probably).

Many wannabe Kathak dancers are influenced by the Kathak performance they see in films, especially Hindi movies. Do you feel that the originality of classical dance forms is getting lost because of the influence of Bollywood and alteration of the conventional patterns?

Unfortunately, a lot of what is shown in movies nowadays is a whittled down version of kathak: actors who are not really proficient with the dance art basically don a glitzy dress and ‘go through the motions’ mimicking the real dance.

I think it used to be better in the past where the real dance items were shown in the movies. We recently watched Jalsaghar from Satyajit Ray including state of the art music and dance numbers that make it worth watching for their sake only. Other examples may be Umrao Jaan (the original), Pakeezaa, Mughal-e-Azam, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, and many others.

On the other hand, attracting the new generation of young people which will become the new dancers is also important. If Bollywood movies allow for some of this young people to get in touch with the dance form (be it a diminished version of it) and get interested in it, I am all for it.

Has Kathak in any manner enriched your life, your personality, your daily living?

Of course it has, in many ways. As any oriental art form, Kathak is not only an art, but also a philosophy of life, which breeds character, self-confidence and a certain way of apprehending the world. After continued practice of kathak for more than ten years now, I can confirm that I have been infused by the philosophy. I personally believe I have become a better person, much more realized, thanks to Kathak.


Art and humanity

Nui Yaikabtaa is Director /Coordinator at Yaikabtaa Group. Yaikabtaa Group is founded in 20th October 1993 by a group of youth who interest in education, environment and culture. They use stage performance as a tool to communicate with the community in term of reflecting the change of society through classical and contemporary plays until today. Nui is a social worker and believes “do little good things everyday, it will become great things one day.

Who/what inspires your work?

Regarding shadow play, Prakrupitaksilpakom is the one who inspires me. If we talk about social works activities and Yai Kab Taa group, I established in 20 October 1993.  We focus on environment, education and culture which we set target on children and youth. I have my friends, senior advisors and networkers who started this works as my inspiration.

Shadow theatre is a traditional, rural form of entertainment. In the big cities, Western forms of media entertainment like movies or television have, for the most part, taken the place of traditional art forms. What are your thoughts?

Personally, I don't worry about that.I believe that people will choose what they want to consume and if they want to keep the traditional ones alive or not.

What is the present scenario of the art community in Thailand?

From my point of view, hence it is normal for some changes and developments, on the other hand there are still people admire traditional art and cultures as we have strong beautiful cultures.

Do you think that an artist has a sort of obligation to society?

Yes indeed. The artists are the connection that link and tell people about social situation in the form of art. Some paintings will send various messages to the audiences. The performances may leave lots messages to audiences even for short moment of the show may lead to better change if that performance means to serve the social.

What kind of social activities are you involved in?

We focus on environment, education and culture.

What are your future plans?

I would like to open alternative shop for friends and make it as a hub for volunteers to share and exchange their social activities and products and use the money they earn for further activities.
I strongly believe that there are still many people in this world interested in voluntary work learning hand in hand with us Yai Kab Taa group.


In this sport, the experience is decisive

Dmitry Pechurin is a 25 years old Chess boxing player from Moscow. He has fought in 8 fights with 7 wins, and 1 loss.   Recently, he participated in the first edition of Chess Boxing Amateur World Championships held at Khudiram Anushilan Kendra,Kolkata.

How did your career in chess boxing begin?

I met with my coach Marat Shakhmanov, who told me about this sport and offered to train.

It is very difficult to coordinate mind and body together. How difficult is chess boxing?

In this sport, the experience is decisive. The more experience you have, the easier it is to switch from boxing to chess and back.

What qualities do you think a successful chess boxer should posses?

It's simple! He must be able to play chess and be a boxer.

How do you mentally prepare for a match?

It seems to me that the main thing is not to think about the upcoming fight. Try to relax, listen to music or talk on abstract topics with someone from the team.

What’s your opinion on the future of Indian chess boxing?

I think that Chess boxing in India will have a great future. The tournament that was held in India showed that, unlike other countries, Chess boxing is very popular in India. Fighters of India need to 
gain experience in international competitions.

What are your future plans?

My plan for the future is to become a world champion among professionals. For this, I need to train the level of chess and boxing.


Theatre is live and immediate

Mukul Ahmed started his theatre career with The Half Moon Theatre, London. In 2007 he completed the Birkbeck MFA Theatre Directing programme. He has since gone onto direct a series of classics, new writing and play readings (nominated for the Amnesty Award). Mukul has participated in the Step Change programme successfully and Staff Directed at the National Theatre, England. 

Internationally Mukul Ahmed has directed Faust, Devdas and Three Girls from Shakespeare by Farrukh Dhondy; night, Mother by Marsha Norman; Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare; Black Moon; Sonata by Mahesh Elkuncwar and Oscar and the lady in Pink by Eric - Emmanuel Schmitt. Future plans include Olga's Room by Dea Loher and Roberto Zucco by Bernard-Marie Koltes in India.  Mukul Ahmed is the Artistic director of Mukul and Ghetto Tigers. 

How did you get interested in theatre? 

The madness that is theatre took hold of me as I went to the United Kingdom (in 1990) where I plunged into a career in theatre at the Half Moon Theatre.  Later on I completed the University of London MFA Theatre Directing programme in 2007.  
How would you describe your work to somebody- Do you have a style or a defining characteristic that runs throughout your plays?

I should state that my first and foremost obligation is to build a strong team even before I embark on the body of the work. I work from the premise that I know nothing!  The cast and the crew are the ones who bring their experience and talent with them to me. And slowly I handover the ownership of the play to the cast and the crew.  I consider myself to be the person who brings them together to create the magic on stage. Music (mostly live) plays a defining role in all my plays.

A big number of theatre and performance artists are producing new works and new modes of expression in order to dramatize the more current and urgent sociopolitical developments. 

Do you think local political theatre has any impact on what is going on in society?

Of course it does. Any form of art is deeply political. Hence political theatre agitates, provokes and reflects the sociopolitical developments of a given society.

Do you think in this world of hyper-digitalization, face to face interaction of art with audience has lost out to internet and its mode of communication?

Not at all. Theatre is live and immediate. It creates an unique human experience that no other form of art can do. The magic of theatre makes us realise the truth. People come to see live acting in order to be provoked, challenged and entertained.

                                                                                -  Mukul Ahmed

In your opinion, what are the most exciting developments in contemporary theatre today? 

Interactive performance, creating non-proscenium theatre, minimalism in expression and live streaming.

What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career i in theatre?

I don't consider myself to be an authority and I am not very comfortable in this regard. However, my humble suggestion should be - Dedication, Devotion and Discipline.  


The “Mind-Body “Battle

Recently, First Chess Boxing Amateur World Championships was organized by Chess Boxing Organization of India in association with World Chess Boxing Organization took place in Kolkata. More than a hundred fighters from all over the world like Russia, India, Iran, France and Italy participated. Thomas Cazeneuve from France was the official amateur chess boxing world championship gold medalist at the tournament.

How long have you been chess boxing for and what got you into it?

My first chess boxing fight was in January 2015. It was a kind of show for a French web series on Canal+, so not a real fight, more a demonstration to promote the sport! I've been interested in this sport since a longer time but I couldn't find an opportunity to fight! I made 3 more after + this tournament and won all of them! I started fighting when I was 15, by doing kick boxing, French boxing, MMA also and now only boxing! I started chess when I was 4 years old!

What sort of strength and conditioning program do you follow?

I'm training 6 days / week in boxing. I have also a diet and I'm trying to live in the more healthy way possible! Concerning chess, it's everyday by learning theory, openings, endings etc.

What has been the most memorable fight for you?

I think the most memorable fight for me and also the hardest was my first official fight in Berlin for the Intellectual Fight Club! I was fighting Igor, a Russian man from the Moscow chess boxing club! I won the fight in the 5th round of chess after 4 rounds of boxing!

How is the present scenario of chess boxing in France?

I'm trying to create the French federation currently! Wilfried, Matthieu and Stephane have the same will so together we will come up with something very interesting! For me a lot of people are curious about this discipline and there is really something to do about it! And maybe a chess boxing will be organized in Montpellier in May!

Do you have any advice for youngsters who are considering taking up chess boxing professionally?

My advice will be to train in both disciplines. It's not enough if you're a good boxer but not a good chess player and the contrary is also true. You really need to focus on this sport as a whole! Also, always stay focus it's never over! Your opponent can make a big mistake on the board, you can throw a lucky punch etc. Chess boxing is very tricky, make strategy! If you're better in chess, don't take any risk in boxing for instance!

And of course it's like everything, there is no secret, there is no shortcut, if you want something you just don't count the cost and do whatever it takes to get it. Don't listen to anybody, believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you want.


Holly Riva, singing with passion and purpose for positive change.

Holly Riva Moore, 14 years old, a passionate member of the Sydney Australia arts community and Nida, Australia’s leading school for Acting and performing.   Joining The Australian Theatre for Young People at the tender age of 3 ( ATYP ) in which many of the Australian greats studied such as Cate Blanchet, Nicole Kidman and Rebel Wilson.

After staring in many theatre productions, Holly is excited to have a new challenge, being signed up for a half feature European/Australian production, being filmed in Europe later this year. Holly takes the role of “Fleur” a ghost teenager and honored to have written a song featured in the movie.

Holly’s love of singing, acting and dancing has enabled her to perform in many counties worldwide, from as far as London Park Lane to Rishikesh India. In Rishikesh India, Holly sang by the river Ganges for the United Nations “Wonderful World, “to over 5,000 thousand people, celebrating Diwali and promoting clean water and global awareness.

Holly is proud to be an ambassador for The Hope Foundation Kolkata that looks after underprivileged street children; her message is “kids for kids”. Holly shares her gift in bringing a little magic to others lives. Once a year embracing a crowd of over 3000 people in performing and generating awareness at Foundation Day Kolkata.

Holly has a passion for writing her own music and is working towards producing her own album and currently rehearsing for events in Sydney, London and India later this year. Recently she performed at the Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata organised by Earth Day Network-India.

Who/what inspires you musically?

I have a large appetite for a variety of different genres of music including jazz, soul and pop with a twist of ethnic Indian. My favourite artists include- Adele, Lady Rizo, Michel Buble, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse and Sukanya Gosh.

Any specific song that is close to your heart and what is the story behind the song?

Summertime has inspired me as an artist as it is so powerful and timeless due to its metaphors of freedom and justice of the African American community.

I heard this song when I was seven years old, it touched my heart and ignited my artistic passion to interpret and create my own version which was my first time I ever made a rendition of a song. I have proudly sung this song all around the world.

What stands out as being one of the highlights of your career?

There has been many however 3 that come to mind are;
I opened Diwali singing for the Governor General of UP and swami Chidanada in Rishikesh it was beyond belief as thousands of people lined the holy river and I felt spiritually transported. London Park Lane, Four Seasons Hotel for a private fund raising function for the Hope Foundation, many high profile people attended. It was such an honour to close the event.

I am also an actor and was fortunate to have a lead role in a 3 month production called Mum and Dad, performed on stage in my home town of Sydney Australia.

You are a young Ambassador for Hope Foundation. Do you think that a musical artist has a sort of obligation to society?

I honestly feel that as an artist we have not so much an obligation more so a choice to create awareness with matters that concern us and close to our hearts. Allot of entertainers are not interested and that's their choice. For me singing with a purpose is more inspiring and far more powerful in change making.

Pic courtesy : Oxford Bookstore Kolkata
What are some of your most memorable experiences in Kolkata?

From the age of eight I have performed in the Science City stadium in Kolkata for The Hope Foundation. The feeling of having over four thousand people watching your performance is beyond words and joining in with the children of Hope in their amazing performances is truly magical. On that stage at the age of eight I had this amazing moment when I decided that this is my passion, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.

What can your fans look forward to in the future?

This year I am so excited to announce I’m acting in a short feature film called “Reflexione”. 
We are shooting in Austria and I am honoured to play the third main. This will be shown at all the international film festivals around the world. I have written a song that production has approved for the movie! It’s my first song I have written for a film.

Also continue to write songs for my future album due to be released within two years. I am hoping to also return to Kolkata late October to perform live.


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