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CAPITAL’S ART AFFAIR

It’s on until December 10 — the 12th edition of the Delhi International Art Festival, that brings together music, theatre, films and dance from 20 countries

Even as the mercury dips, the capital ’s festive quotient is on the rise. With an eclectic mix of food, art, literature, film and other events, Delhi is in full swing.

For over a decade, the beginning of December has been seeing artists from various parts of the world flying in to the city for one of the capital’s signature art festivals. With it’s 12th edition this year, the Delhi International Art Festival is a cultural extravaganza at its best.

Opening at Purana Qila, decked up with lights, the festival witnessed first-of-its-kind performances from Korea and China. The ethereal traditional music and dance performance by the South Korean artists left the audience awe-struck. For the first time in India, South and North Korean dance performances were staged together. Language was no barrier, as they communicated with the crowd through music.

The performance that stole the show was the China Drum Opera from Shanghai. Dancer-drummers beating drums, wearing colourful costumes, reverberated through the evening. Their infectious energy completely captivated the audience, drawing in huge applause.

A multi-discipline festival, it brings together a plethora of music, dance, theatre, films, literature and art from over 20 countries. Not only traditional acts, but the festival also has a fair share of contemporary performances.

 

The fifth day of the festival saw Flame of the Forest, a fusion instrumental band from Singapore, belting out originals that kept the audience tapping their feet all along. Playing to a predominantly young crowd at Marwah Studio in Noida, the venue almost transformed into the ground of a college fest.

Performing a premiere of their upcoming album, they also improvised on stage. “Even though we have in mind what we want to play, it all changes once we go up on the stage. We go according to the mood and reaction of the crowd because we want them to enjoy and engage with our music,” says Krsna Tan, the sitarist of the band.

‘Something old, something new, something borrowed’—that’s how they like to describe themselves. Formed in the 80’s by Kenny Tan, who learned to play the instruments from Indian masters during the 10 years he lived on and off in India, the band was passed on to the next generation. With his son Krsna Tan playing sitar and his brother Govin Tan on the tabla, the band incorporates diverse styles and concepts from other genres with their understanding of Indian classical and folk music. The other members of the band playing electric bass, guitar, violin and keyboard, the group adds an energising spin to world of fusion music.

“We are always both scared and excited to be performing in India. Even though we are playing their instruments, it’s exciting to see how they will receive Singaporeans experimenting with their music,” adds Govin.

Apart from music, theatrical performances in this edition bring in a lot of flavour. Shakespeare’s King Lear is adapted and performed into Kathakali by French director, Annete Leday, bringing a unique approach to inter-cultural contemporary theatre. Another artist, Fiona Gardner, an Australian dancer and choreographer, has reinterpreted Goddess Kali through a thematic experimental dance performance.

Fiona had a deep association with the Indian goddess for over a decade. “She came to me in a dream over and over. I always wanted to perform in India to see what Indians thought of my interpretation of Kali,” says Fiona, who performed in India for the first time. Using dramatic visuals through projections, along with props like knives, she portrayed the different stories of Kali. Within the dance performance, Fiona also inculcated Kalaripayattu — a martial art form of Tamil Nadu. “I used a contemporary western style and music to address women’s issues. The #MeToo movement provoked me to explore the movement through Kali,” explains Fiona.

Transforming the city into a hub of cultural excellence, the festival is staged at  20 different venues across Delhi. With a lot more in store, the 10-day festival will come to a close on December 10.