Surati presented an allusive and promising prologue to its ongoing festival event: “Lights of Diwali”, with an inaugural Dandiya Bollywood Night outdoors at Exchange Place, Jersey City, with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, on October 11, 2019.
The Friday evening came alive with the vibrant music and foot-tapping rhythm of the Dandiya (Indian folk dance from the state of Gujarat), to which hundreds of buoyant and vivacious revelers responded with swinging, swirling, and wheeling steps, forming a resplendent revolving circle of energy and joy, according to a press release.
The music was provided by the versatile band “Saaz aur Sangeet” from India. DJ Sunny spun garba, dandiya and Bollywood eclectic music for the evening.
A major feature of this year’s Lights of Diwali festival is an operatic staging of the musical play ‘Ramaavan’, conceptualized, choreographed, produced and directed by founder- artistic director of Surati, Rimli Roy, based on the great Indian epic, The Ramayana. The shows will be staged on October 30th and again on November 1, 2, and 3 in Hoboken, NJ.
A highlight feature of Friday, October 11 evening was an informal introduction of the cast of the Musical “Ramaavan”, who appeared on stage in their respective costumes, introduced themselves and offered tiny glimpses of the individual roles they would be playing. The effect was stupendous, almost electric in its exchange of audience-actor vibes, enhancing the festive mood.
Geo Perez (Ram) sang acapella a line from his song “My heart is breaking into a thousand pieces”, Tavishi Sharma (Sita) sang a few lines from her solo song. Shurmi Dhar (Soul of Sita opera singer) sang a few lines from Handels aria Lascia Ch’io Pianga which is also a part of the play while dancers and actors Courtney Costello (Jatayu, warrior and dancer), Sarah Bialkin (Golden Deer, dancer) talked about their experiences with the show.
The show has an original script by Arati Roy, while the musical score is by renowned music composers from India Sumit and Rajesh Roy.
Other activities of the evening included food vendors, diya painting for children, bouncy houses, henna, sparklers on sale and a cash bar. The sponsors of the festival were Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, The City of Jersey City and Jersey City Cultural Affairs.