NEW YORK – Celebrating six highly acclaimed New York seasons, Drive East, the expansive Indian dance and music festival produced by Navatman Inc., hits two cities this year: New York, from August 13 to August 19 at the La Mama Experimental Theater Group and August 22-26 in San Francisco at the Joe Goode Annex.
From bharatanatyam to ghazals, kuchipudi to kathakali, Drive East is a one-of-a-kind immersive experience into the world of Indian classical arts, according to a press release.
“Drive East this year is even more well-rounded with over 12 styles of of classical dance and music, and features all seven styles of Indian classical dance. We’re even more excited because for the first time we are a truly international festival featuring performers from Canada, France and Singapore in addition to India and the US,” says Navatman Co-Director Sahasra Sambamoorthi, in a statement.
Furthermore, as a response to its success and popularity in 2017, Drive East has now expanded to a second city for the first time — San Francisco, now featuring 35 concerts over two weeks in two cities.
“It’s important to us that how we present the festival is fresh and exciting so that audiences can really experience the vitality of these art forms. There is no better place for this than San Francisco,” adds Co-Director, Sridhar Shanmugam.
Some of the highlights include Prabal Gupta with kathakali, an art form rarely seen in the US, who recently represented India at their Washington DC Embassy in 2017 for their India Independence Day celebrations.
Other performers are Abhinaya Dance Company who have won the Isadora Duncan Award and Veena maestro Nirmala Rajasekar who recently garnered the prestigious McKnight Fellowship.
Also performing would be Arushi Mudgal from New Delhi, who will perform a classical Indian dance solo in the form of Odissi, which originated from the Hindu temples of Odisha. Considered one of the rising stars of Indian dance, she has been presented with various awards in her already illustrious career. She has received the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar from the Sangeet Natak Akademi (India’s National Academy for the Arts), and a Touring Fellowship from Milapfest, UK, to name a few.
Ashwath Narayanan from Chennai will perform classical carnatic vocals. Some of Ashwath’s meritorious recognitions include Sri Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award, Isai Chudar from Karthik Fine arts, Outstanding vocalist award from The Music Academy Madras, Yuva Kala Ratna from R.R Sabha Chennai, The Hindu Saregama M S Subbulakshmi Award , Sri M D Ramanathan Award and Sri Voleti Venkateshwarulu Award from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha to name a few.
Drive East will also feature three artists that are known to take classical art forms beyond its traditional boundaries of presentation. A newly curated program entitled ‘Dualities in Dance: Gender Roles in Bharatanatyam’ by Sujit Vaidya, Mesma Belsare, and Kiran Rajagopalan, will be followed by a panel that will explore gender binaries in Indian dance.
There will also be a performance called ‘KATHAK!’ by a group of acclaimed performers from India produced by Jonathan Hollander of NY’s Battery Dance, including Anuj Mishra and Sandip Mallick.
Additional artists and performers for Drive East New York are: Shijith and Parvathy Nambiar, Chennai (Bharatanatyam); Bhavana Reddy, New Delhi/Los Angeles (Kuchipudi); Navatman Dance, New York City (Bharatanatyam); Flute Raman Trio, Chennai (Carnatic flute); Vishal Vaid (Hindustani Vocal Performance) Shruthi Kezhakepuram Purushotham (Mohiniyattam Performance) Vinay Desai (Santoor Performance), and Dr. Raghunath Manet (Bharatanatyam Recital), Neha Mondal Chakravarity (Bharatanatyam), and Navatman Music Collective (Carnatic choir)