Now in its 19th edition, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s annual Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts is back to spread hope to all its viewers. This year’s edition focuses on the power of the arts to build resilience and reconnect audiences to the beauty of nature and see the light in life, complete with a key visual that takes inspiration from the Tree of Life, symbolising new beginnings, positive energy, good health, wisdom and a bright future.
While still in the midst of the pandemic, most of this year’s festival will be rooted in digital presentations, with a strong focus on local Indian artists integral to Singapore’s scene. The first of these is the premiere of Apsaras Arts’ Amara – Dancing Stories of Banteay Srei, which throws the spotlight onto the eponymous sacred Cambodian building. Small but outstanding for the pink hue of the hard, red sandstone it’s made from, along with its intricately sculpted wall relief carvings of motifs, figures and scenes from the Hindu Mahabharata and Ramayana epics, let Apsaras Arts bring these many deities and sacred women to life with this dance production.
Chowk Productions will present Pallavi through Abstractions, where the film will examine the ‘pallavi’, or repeated refrain in carnatic music, and navigate the relationship between the performance space and the abstract space inhabited by dance using odissi’s “chowk” position, the body as it moves to the rhythm of the “tri-bhang” stance, and finally deconstruct the classical odissi by isolating and accenting torso movements.
Finally, of the premieres, look out for Pathey Nimidam – 10- minute Tamil plays, presented in collaboration with RDG. In the annual Tamil 10-minute play festival, watch as numerous Tamil and non-Tamil theatre practitioners come together to create nine diverse works, each dealing with themes and concerns close to our heart. Directors of all the 9 plays also collaborated with filmmaker K. Rajagopal (A Yellow Bird) to film the plays for digital premiere.
Solving For Stories
The Esplanade’s annual Chakra-thon also makes a return, this time with hindustani music performances by prominent artists from India, including Krishna Rajani, Mangal Dhwani, Pratah Sangeet, Swara Pabhath, Triprahar Raga and more. For family time, come put on your thinking cap and solve some riddles with Stories for Solving, along with podcast conversations with Zakir Hussain, Leela Samson, Arundhati Nag, Atul Kumar, Devdutt Pattanaik and Singapore artist Md Raffee.
With government announcements that live performances can resume from November with the appropriate regulations in place, audiences also have the option to witness some of these as live shows, while online, the Esplanade will also be showcasing highlights from past years, with plenty of archival screenings made available. Come immerse yourself in the Indian performing arts, both offline and online this November, and experience it in all its diversity to bring back a little magic and hope in these trying times.
Kalaa Utsavam 2020 runs from 20th to 29th November 2020. Tickets and more information available here