The power of rhythm and the speed of sound are the themes driving this year’s music and dance sections at the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
For dance, the theme is Prakirna - Celebrating Rhythm (Prakirna is Horse, in Sanskrit).
“This is to mark the return of a Kala Ghoda statue in the area, and rhythm of course is the basis of all dance,” says section curator Anonna Guha.
More than 700 dancers from across India and beyond, including countries such as France and Spain, will perform — including stalwarts such as Mallika Sarabhai and Anita Ratnam, dancers as young as 13, and a flamenco show by danseuse Paris Laxmi and her troupe.
Malkhamb will be performed by a visually impaired troupe, and there will be performances by Bharatanatyam exponent Sudha Chandran and Gracy Singh, a Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancer whom you may remember as the young village belle in Lagaan (2001).
There is plenty to look forward to for music lovers, too, with bigger stages at open-air venues like Cross Maidan, fresh acts ranging from Mumbai band Bombay Bairag to the Italian Officina Zoe, a new indoor venue for indie performances at Boston Butt, a restaurant near Jehangir Art Gallery. And a flute symphony.
Flute symphonies typically feature 25 to 100 performers; this one will have 75 flautists performing together, led by Vivek Sonar.
“I am excited about performing at the same festival where I shared stage with my guru, the maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia 12 years ago,” Sonar says.
“This is the first a time flute symphony is performing at Kala Ghoda, which I consider the biggest cultural festival of Mumbai. We have created new compositions for the festival, some Indian classical and some popular style compositions.”
There will be performances by Hindustani vocalists Parveen Sultana and Rahul Sharma, rock band Indus Creed, and a fun rap session with Baba Sehgal, adds section co-curator Arpana Gavalani.
For the sections’ volunteers, the excitement has already begun.
“I’ve been hearing about the festival for years and have been unable to make it every time,” says Anandita Khaitan, 35, executive producer at a film production house.
“So this year I decided to become a volunteer to truly experience the vibe. Music is an important part of my life and to me this is the best way to be part of the festival and its multiple events.”
Businessman Naitik Vorani, 27, on the other hand, has attended every edition of KGAF for years.
“I hang out in the Kala Ghoda area all through the festival. I love the way it comes alive and the streets fill with people,” he says. “I have impromptu get-togethers with friends each year, and I’m looking forward to my fix of good food and great performances.”