Pick of the week: Harmony through the arts

Bengaluru International Arts Festival (Biaf) provides a platform to artistes from within the country and outside to interact, collaborate and perform together


Folk group Madhusara from Sri Lanka will perform at the festival.
Folk group Madhusara from Sri Lanka will perform at the festival.

Our classical arts hold the soul of the country,” says Suma Sudhindra, director of the Bengaluru International Arts Festival (Biaf), which starts in the city today.

Which is why she believes it is important to make it more accessible to people. “These art forms, be it dance or music, may be ancient but they are still relevant.”

Biaf, which provides a platform to artistes from within the country and outside to interact, collaborate and perform together, is “a destination festival through which we could showcase performances by artistes from across the world”, says Sudhindra.

In its ninth edition, Biaf will showcase mostly group performances of traditional folk dance by more than 150 artistes from various countries, including Brazil, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Other performances in the line-up include Hindustani music, qawwali, Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Odissi.

Bharatanatyam exponent Rama Vaidyanathan, who will perform at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall on 23 September, says, “This festival is important because it reaches out to newer audiences every year, to people who haven’t been initiated into the classical dance forms before.” She will perform new compositions, one of which will be a thumri. “This particular composition blends a south Indian dance form with a north Indian music form,” she says.

Kathak dancer Madhu Natraj, vocalist Suchethan Rangaswamy, pianist Pedro Silva from Brazil and flautist Nathalie Ramírez from Mexico are also taking part in the festival.

A yoga workshop will be held at Cubbon Park on 18 September. The session will be facilitated by Namrata Sudhindhra, who is Suma’s daughter and a yoga professional. “It is an open class in a supportive environment which allows people who have been thinking about yoga to come and dip their toes into it,” Namrata says.

As always, the festival will be open to all. “We have had very good footfall (in the past) and awareness has increased drastically over the last nine years. Also, there are more young people attending it now,” says Suma, adding, “Harmony through arts has been our objective and we hope to continue to take this message across.”

The Bengaluru International Arts Festival will be held from 9-25 September. Timings and venues vary. For details, visit here

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