Preview: Kalaa Utsavam 2019 by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Back for its 18th edition, the Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of the Arts returns this Deepavali season to present another 10 exciting days of the very best artists from across the Indian diaspora, presenting both traditional and contemporary works – and sometimes, a mix of both to keep us both rooted as we move into the future.
Much of Kalaa Utsavam’s line-up this year comprises dance works, headlined by Aditi Mangaldas as she returns to Kalaa Utsavam for the fourth time with new work Inter_rupted, a work that showcases her signature blend of the classical kathak tradition, contemporary dance elements and theatre design. Inter_rupted explores the human body – its fragility, disintegration, resilience, vulnerability, inevitability and renewal. It asks of the audience to celebrate the body and its existence, the way it lives and breathes as something that is transient, flowing, yet interrupted.
Young choreographer Preethi Athreya will be presenting contemporary dance work The Lost Wax Project, taking her training in the classical form of bharatanatyam and bringing it into the modern age. Exploring the potentiality of space and its interrelations with the human body, the title is a metaphor gleaned from the sculpting process, in which wax moulds are used to cast metallic sculptures; when the sculpture takes its final shape, the wax that fills the mould is “lost”.
With Bhaskar’s Arts Academy, the Esplanade will be co-produce Marabu – The First Ripple, the group’s first venture into the dance-theatre genre, presented as the first of a trilogy, while Actors Ensemble India Forum also makes its Singapore debut with Ultimate Kurukshetra, a side-splitting comedy and a modern take on the epic Mahabharata.
On the music front, the Esplanade will see the return of Bangalore-based carnatic rockers Agam, who bring their unique blend of classical carnatic sounds with a rock twist. Commissioned by Esplanade, this concert will see the band perform an exclusive segment with celebrated Hindustani vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty for the first time ever. For even more carnatic music, be sure to check out The Guitar Prasanna Trio, making their Kalaa Utsavam debut as they showcase their signature musical style that marries Western genres such as rock, metal, blues and funk with carnatic music.
At The Threshold, come witness an intimate musical conversation with artists Pallavi MD and Bindhumalini celebrating the lesser-known journeys of remarkable women across continents and spanning generations, accentuated with a rich plethora of sounds from instruments such as the harmonium to the swarmandal, the udukkai to the banjo. For Bollywood music fans, look forward to the Singapore debut of composer, singer and lyricist Amit Trivedi, who is often touted as the torchbearer of the new generation of pop music.
Plus, Swarhythm Ensemble, a multi-ethnic group of talented Singapore musicians founded and led by accomplished tabla artist Nawaz Mirajkar, will launch their first album in a concert, while homegrown Hindi band The Band Walle returns to the festival with their first ticketed concert, performing contemporary renditions of Bollywood, Punjabi folk and Bhangra music.
Even for the younger ones, families can take the kids for a great day out with a performance of Airavata and his Mammoth Task. Created by the Esplanade, young children will be inspired by the tales of the King of Elephants and the brave and loyal vehicle of Indra. This Deepavali season, it’s time to head on down to the Esplanade and indulge in all that the Indian arts scene has to offer, from dance to theatre, comedy to concerts, as Kalaa Utsavam returns this November.
Kalaa Utsavam runs from 15th to 24th November 2019 at the Esplanade. For full programme line-up and more information, visit the Esplanade’s website here