Imbo & Eli
Imbo & Eli revolves around the unlikely friendship between Imbo, an elephant with a short trunk, and Eli, a mouse with an unusually long tail. There are many versions of this story: this one is inspired by the group of PANCHATANTRA tales that are centered on the friendship between animals. These stories first appeared in India over 2,000 years ago.
Ask Preeti and Yo-Yo
Preeti and Yo-Yo collaborated on this digital story performance over video calls. Take a listen to their conversations below:
The Storyteller's Toolkit
The techniques an Indian classical dancer uses to create an emotional mood are grouped under the term "saatvika abhinaya" (SAAT-vika ab-in-EYE-a). In particular, the face is a key tool for communicating emotion—Indian dancers train for years to perfect these expressions!
Watch how Preeti manipulates different aspects of facial expression (eyes, lips, eyebrows) to create the emotional effect.
(Note: These videos do not have voiceover/subtitles.)
Every culture uses its hand gestures for expression: in bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) these gestures are classified in minute detail. Each gesture has specific meanings and applications. Each video includes the name of different facial expressions, or "saatvika abhinaya," and hand gestures, or "mudras" in Sanskrit (the classical language of India) along with examples and applications.
Commentary & Analysis
In the video In the video below Preeti demonstrates how she uses the classical gestural vocabulary of Indian dance to depict Imbo and Eli.
The Red Curtain Drawing Challenge
Imbo and Eli are unlikely friends. Now that you've heard their story, we challenge you to draw a pair of unlikely friends—animal or human! Artist Alaina Buffalo Spirit paints and draws over maps of her home state. Can you find old newspaper or paper maps to use as a canvas?
Send us your drawings at firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll see them here on the site.
Panchatantra Stories Across the World
The Panchatantra stories are among the most famous in the world. Some of the stories in the book can be traced to the Rigveda from around 1500 BC. It is estimated, however, that the tales were gathered into a separate book somewhere between 200 BC and 500 AD. The work is one of the most translated Indian works.
These fables have had great influence on literature in the West, in particular in the Middle Ages. Folk tale motifs in the Panchatantra are found in Boccaccio, La Fontaine and the works of Grimm Brothers.
Meet Our Global Collaborators
Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist
United States of America
Yo-Yo Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four, and three years later moved with his family to New York City. There, he continued his studies at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education and graduated from Harvard with a degree in anthropology.
Yo-Yo’s career is testament to his faith in culture’s power to generate the trust and understanding essential to a strong society. This belief inspired Yo-Yo to establish the global cultural collective Silkroad, and, more recently, to set out on the Bach Project — a six-continent tour of J. S. Bach’s suites for solo cello and an invitation to a larger conversation about culture, society, and the themes of connection.
Alaina Buffalo Spirit, Artist
Lame Deer, Montana (USA)
Alaina Buffalo Spirit is a self-taught artist from the So'taa'ee band of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, whose work honors the women that made a difference in her life. Alaina Buffalo Spirit's artwork is based on the traditional ledger art, originated by Indian warriors who were incarcerated in the 1800s.
Using the materials that were available to them, these warrior artists recorded their powerful stories through images made on the ledger paper issued by the government for tallying and record-keeping. Inspired by these early images which depicted life on the Plains, both before and during times of conflict, Ms. Buffalo Spirit uses ledger paper made during this period in much of her work.