September 17, 2014

India’s Maestros of Music & Dance Set to Dazzle DC before Modi


Credit: Dance Kathas
UTSAV

Washington, DC – The doyens of Indian classical dances and traditional music are set to take over The Kennedy Center in the most powerful city in the world for three days with the mission of promoting opportunities for education and the advancement of Indian classical dance as a traditional art form.

Commenting on the upcoming UTSAV, a three-day celebration featuring performances of traditional Indian music and dance by renowned Indian artists, Sreedhar Potarazu, one of the organizers told India America Today, “An important component of fostering the relationship between India and the United States is the role of the arts as a catalyst and vehicle for collaboration. This festival represents a prime opportunity for UTSAV and the US-India Business Council to highlight the fine arts as a key pillar in the two nations’ partnership — particularly with the Indian Prime Minister’s visit coming later this month.” The newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Washington DC, on September 29-30, according to a statement from the White House.

The festival gets kicked off on Friday, Sep. 19, 7:30 p.m. with the performance of Jayanthi Kumaresh, one of the most accomplished and versatile veena instrumentalists who has been enthralling audiences the world over with her graceful, emotive, and expressive music for the last 25 years. She has been a part of music ensembles with musicians from India and abroad.

Next day, Saturday, Sep. 20, 2 p.m. the center welcomes Bombay Jayashri is one of the most sought after Carnatic vocalists, as well as a composer with a career extending over two decades. Her quest to experiment with various forms of music has resulted in collaborations with many eminent artists, among them film director Ang Lee, where she performed the Oscar-nominated song “Pi’s Lullaby” for the film Life of Pi. The same day at 7:30 p.m. the festival continues with Rahul Sharma is a versatile musician who plays the santoor, a 100-stringed instrument. While his first love is Indian classical music, he plays a vast spectrum of musical styles and collaborated with pianist Richard Clayderman for his album Confluence.

The last day Sunday, Sep. 21, 2 p.m. sees Pandit Birju Maharaj, a leading exponent of Kathak, mesmerizing the audiences with his Indian classical dance performance. He possesses the unique quality of in-depth understanding of the beat, and as a master storyteller, interlaces his performances with life incidents, narrated to captivate the audience.

The curtain comes down on the extravaganza on Sunday, Sep. 21 at 7:30 p.m. with Alarmel Valli, a dancer and choreographer who is among the most popular performers of the Bharatanatyam style of Indian classical dance. She bases her dance on the principle that this style is an evocative language where the dancer internalizes the idiom, thus writing her personal dance poetry.

The program notes that performance timing for all performances is 2 hours, with no intermission.

Lalgudi G J R Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, both participating artists in 2013 UTSAV aptly defined the festival saying, “Utsav is a passionate effort by a bunch of energetic devoted and dedicated people to showcase our Indian Arts & Music in a prestigious venue as John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.The best of our artistes perform at this exquisite venue every year making it into a microcosm of the Chennai December festival.”