Indian arts fest goes experimental

Indian arts fest goes experimental
The Raghu Dixit Project (above) will be performing at Kalaa Utsavam.

Kalaa Utsavam, Esplanade's popular Indian festival of the arts, will go big on experimental dance and music this year.

Headliners for the event, now in its 13th year, include acclaimed Indian vocalist Shubha Mudgal and the popular Raghu Dixit Project, a band that create Indian music with a Western twist.

The line-up includes three fresh locally produced works, two of which were commissioned by the Esplanade. Home-grown theatre artist Daisy Irani will direct Nagamandala, based on Indian playwright and actor Girish Karnad's famous play.

Ticket sales for the festival, which runs from Nov 21 to 30 to coincide with the festive season of Deepavali, starts today. Deepavali falls on Oct 22 this year.

Apart from acts from India, the 10-day event will also feature more works by home-grown artists, as well as Once Upon A Peacock's Tail, a new English-language production for children based on a Rajasthani folk tale.

Singapore-based dancer Raka Maitra will present The Blind Age, a dance performance of Andha Yug (Blind Age), an Indian theatre classic by Marathi playwright Dharamvir Bharati.

Drawing on the classical dance forms Odissi and Chhau, it will be presented as a parable on some of the catastrophic conflicts of the times as well as man's propensity to create as well as destroy.

Ms Rajeswari Ramachandran, programmer at The Esplanade, tells Life! the shows this year "showcase artists who have re-invented classical dance and music forms and created their own signature". She adds: "They are torchbearers of the evolving Indian arts scene. We also want to show works by local artists to represent how the art scene is evolving here."

This year's edition of Kalaa Utsavam is also committed to showcasing the next generation of accomplished artists, she adds.

The Raghu Dixit Project is a good example of this. Their music has been hailed by critics as soulful, earthly, transcendental and enjoyable. Led by Raghu Dixit, a former scientist-turned-singer who is also a trained bharatanatyam dancer, the band have been charming audiences from India to Britain.

They were invited to perform at international arts festival Womad (World of Music, Arts and Dance), Glastonbury and at the Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Here, Dixit and his band will present much-loved hits including songs from their latest album Jag Changa (The World Is Beautiful).

The annual festival will feature 18 ticketed and more than 50 free music, dance and theatre shows.


Book it


Where: Various venues at The Esplanade

When: Nov 21 to 30

Admission: $15 to $45, ticket sales start today on Sistic. Online sales start at 9am and tickets will be available from 10am at Sistic counters (call 6348-5555 or go to

This article was published on Sept 5 in The Straits Times.

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