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    Rediscovering myths and world melodies, The Park’s New Festival beckons

    THE Park’s New Festival, the annual cultural extravaganza
    conducted in association with the Prakriti Foundation, has built a reputation for avant-garde entertainment. Who can forget last year’s Torobaka, the UK-based dancer-choreographer Akram Khan’s mesmerising collaboration with Spanish flamenco dancer, Israel Galván? Now, in its 10th year, the festival promises to impress yet again, with three acts—a dance performance by Surjit Nongmeikpam and his troupe, world music by Shashank Subramanyam Meets Lelo Nika Trio, and a one-woman act by Yuki Ellias. “As a curator, it was a challenge to get artistes whose works reflect the changing cultural milieu of new India. These are times when the traditional coexists beautifully with the contemporary, and art has to reflect that,” states curator Ranvir Shah. The festival, which raises its curtains in Chennai next weekend, will then travel to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. Talking about its decade-long run, Shah says, “The journey has been exciting and overwhelming, with full houses and standing ovations. Over the past few years, we have had good collaborators, have reached all kinds of audience and the quality of the performers have become even better.” Here’s a look at what you can expect.

    September 6-8. By invite only.
    Details: prakritifoundation@gmail.com

    Dance as dissent

    SURJIT NONGMEIKPAM grew up amid the political instability in Manipur. And this has coloured his performance, Nerves, which voices an artistic dissent against authority of all kinds—be it military, corporate or political. “Since I am from Manipur, I thought it would be best if my story is based on the Manipuri experience. But it is also inspired by incidents from around the world,” he says, adding that the performance is open to interpretation. “I began working on Nerves in 2013 and premiered it in Kalakshetra, in 2014, as a 15-minute performance. Now that I am returning to the same venue, with a one-hour show (that includes four other performers), it feels like I’m revisiting old memories,” says the 30-year-old. The dance employs movements that are raw and strong, “inspired by tribal forms and fused with the Manipuri martial art, thang ta”. The enactment will be enhanced with the use of portable lights and props (like bamboo sticks and shoes hanging from bars, to signify authority and influential people). The music will be a combination of recorded and live Manipuri tunes,
    using indigenous instruments like the laldeng and pena.
    On September 2, at 7 pm, at Kalakshetra. Details: 224520836

    Music sans boundaries

    Chennai-based Grammy-nominated flautist, Shashank Subramanyam, and accordion world champion, Lelo Nika, from Sweden, have been exchanging music for years. When the two finally met three years ago, at a jazz festival in Copenhagen, they decided it was high time for a collaboration. Thus their ensemble, Shashank Subramanyam Meets Lelo Nika Trio, was born. Subramanyam, 38, tells us how two other friends also joined the crew. “I’ve known George Mihalache (who plays the cimbalom) since 1997, when both of us taught at the Rytmisk Conservatory in Copenhagen. I’ve also known Thommy Andersson (on the double bass) for years. He is an experienced jazz musician, too. We’ve always been big admirers of one another’s work.” For the quartet’s India debut, they will be assisted on tabla and khanjira by Mumbai-based percussionist, Ojas Adhiya. “This is also Lelo and George’s first trip to India, so we are all excited,” smiles Subramanyam. Expect a confluence of classical-based contemporary music with Serbian, Romanian, Swedish folklore and jazz. On September 3, from 7 pm, at Sansara Hall, The Park. Details: 42676000

    Trunks and theatre

    YUKI ELLIAS, the theatre artist from Mumbai, is bringing down a unique storytelling act, Elephant in the Room, which has been commissioned for the festival. Unwilling to bracket her work into a single genre, be it absurdist or surreal, Ellias says, “It is a one-woman performance; a mythical story of a young boy whose head is replaced by that of an elephant’s. The adventures unfold as he sets out to look for his head.” The 30-something artiste, well-known for her portrayal of Hermia in Tim Supple’s 2006 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, admits that she had been trying to adapt Elephant in the Room (but with a cast) for a while now. However, when Shah requested her for a solo performance, she thought it was “serendipitous” and decided to convert it into a solo act. She evolved it into a script over two months, in collaboration with writer, Sneh Sapru. Ellias plays seven whimsical characters in it, effortlessly transforming from one character to another through quick onstage costume changes. She adds that the performance will also be a tribute to the myth of Ganesha and Girish Karnad’s  Hayavadana. On September 4, from 7 pm, at Sansara Hall, The Park. Details: 42676000

    Text: Paulami Sen

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