Indian heritage on a high

Indian heritage on a high
Among the five galleries at the new Indian Heritage Centre is Roots And Routes: Origins And Migration.

The new Indian Heritage Centre will mark its opening with a month-long cultural festival that celebrates the diversity of Indian art forms.

On Thursday, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong opens the centre, about 70 dancers from various dance schools in Singapore will perform on the narrow steps of the elegant four-storey centre in Campbell Lane, opposite Little India Arcade.

Walking Life! through the baoli or narrow steps where the dancers will perform, the centre's director, Dr Gauri Krishnan, says the steps were inspired by traditional Indian stepwells and are a way of connecting the facade to the building.

The idea of using them for a dance presentation is to feature every space of the purpose-built centre which has five permanent galleries spread over 3,000 sq m.

Invited guests will get to see a showcase of different classical Indian dance forms including Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak and Mohiniattam.

The CultureFest brings together the best of the performing arts, theatre, dance and popular culture, including a rock concert.

Popular Bollywood singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan kick-started the festival with a sell-out weekend concert at the Esplanade last Saturday.

Dr Krishnan, 51, says: "We felt it was important that popular culture is not missed out. We have tried to present many events that cut across various themes such as traditional arts and crafts, games, trades and food. We also want to cover the cultural traditions of many regions in India."

Among those invited to participate in the inaugural edition of CultureFest is celebrated Singapore-based classical Indian dancer Gayatri Sriram.

Dancers from her school in Singapore, Shruti Laya School of Dance, will be part of the opening act.

Sriram herself will be performing with other dance luminaries such as Santha Bhaskar, 75, artistic director and choreographer of Bhaskar's Arts Academy, at the Victoria Concert Hall on Saturday.

Sriram, 42, says: "This is such a wonderful community effort and the centre is a fantastic showcase of how Indians have contributed to Singapore. A

"It is an honour to be part of a festival that is well thought through. It has not only reached out to the various Indian dance schools in Singapore, but also put in incredible effort to choreograph what promises to be a spectacular opening act."

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