Genre-bending music and dance are on the cards at this year’s Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
With a theme of Breaking Barriers, the Pepe Jeans Music Festival will feature Inuit throat singing about Canadian folklore, an Israeli musician playing an electronic sitar, and a fusion of jazz and Indian classical vocals.
Read more: Kala Ghoda fest to be twice as nice
The sub-theme for the dance festival, powered by Killer, is Breaking Boundaries and this section is set to showcase a novel interpretation of traditional Bharatanatyam margam, which will feature peacock motifs, Carnatic music with the varnam jathi raga, and the acting style of abhinayam; a performance that combines the Kozimba, Dominican Bachata and Salsa dance styles; and a choreographic ensemble set to the tune of rare abhangas or devotional poems written by some of the lesser-known women saints of Maharashtra.
“There are more than two dozen selections and we’ve been working on the line-up since August,” says music section curator Arpana Gvalani. “We want there to be something for everyone, because the Kala Ghoda festival is one that caters to every type of Mumbaiite. So on the one hand we have big Bollywood names like Ayushman, Ehsaan and Loy, and Chirantan performing their hits. And on the other we have up-and-coming indie performers like singer-songwriters Prateek Kuhad and Nush Lewis.”
The music schedule kicks off with a performance by the Symphony Orchestra of India on February 7, and concludes with Ayushman’s performance on the steps of the Asiatic Library, on February 14.
“Performing at Kala Ghoda is very exciting because you get to connect with a new and diverse audience,” says Kuhad, who is performing at the festival for the first time.
On the dance front, the stage is set for Kathak, Kuchipudi, fusion and contemporary dance from Italy, with the selection spanning continents and time periods.
“As a first-time curator, it was very educational to see what goes into organising a festival of this scale,” says curator Anonna Guha. “I’ve been working on the programming since May. What has been most challenging — and most rewarding — is figuring out a line-up that would have something for everyone. I am personally looking forward to the Nritya Shakti performance, which explores the role and function of dance in modern times.”
Music section co-curator Mohit Mukhi would agree. For this singer/songwriter, the festival has been a chance to see the ‘other side’. “The fun part of curating is figuring out what performances will work for what audiences, time slots and so on,” he says. “This year we have everything ranging from jazz musicians to veterans of the Indian classical world.”
Keeping it all on track is a tightly knit band of about a dozen volunteers, ranging from PhD students to photographers and amateur musicians to corporate executives.
“Kala Ghoda is the best opportunity in the city to listen to new performers,” says first-time volunteer Suvajeet Dutta Gupta, a PhD student at IIT-Bombay who freelances as a photographer. “I am looking forward to photographing the artists as they perform.”
Adds five-time volunteer Naresh Pukale, 49, a marketing manager: “The festival helps me indulge my passion for the arts. What I love most about volunteering with the Kala Ghoda festival is the feeling that I am helping bring art to the people. For me, it’s the most unique experience in the city.”