Drive East 2021: Indian Dance and Music Festival August 9-15

New York: Navatman completes one decade of Drive East, a festival that brings various artists of different Indian performing arts genres into the most ambitious—and lauded—congregations of Indian classical music and dance outside of India. 

In this tenth year of the festival, Drive East delves deep to understand ‘What it actually means to be a conscious artist.’ It will be hosting 14 performances that showcase the diverse arts of India and the diaspora, from Bharata Natyam inspired by 21st century novels to Carnatic theater in the tradition of Shakespearean plays, and from Veena to Sufi vocals to piano. Drive East 2021 will be held in a hybrid format blending live theater with an online broadcast to allow for a global artist line-up and audience amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Some of the highlights include Mumbai-based Vaibhav Arekar, one of the leading male Bharata Natyam soloists today, who will be presenting “Upanishads.” New York based Michael Harrison, a composer and pianist who performs original and traditional North Indian classical music on the piano. Harrison earned international recognition when “Revelation,” his 75-minute work for piano, was selected as one of the Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and TimeOut New York. Harrison will be accompanied by the dynamic tabla artist Nittin Mitta, whose tabla playing is featured in Oscar award-winning short films and who has joined forces with Grammy nominated Indian and Western artists. 

A number of rare art forms are featured at Drive East this year, including concerts by Palo Alto-based Guhan Venkataraman accompanied by his brother Vignesh Venkataraman, who will present the veena. Chennai based Madras Players, the old English theater company in India with a track record of 220+ productions over 65 years, have been among the pioneers in showcasing Indian writing on stage. Here, they will present “Trinity,” a first-of-its kind musical play that leverages live Carnatic music to weave a story about three legendary music composers: Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Sastri. Arjun T.V. and team, based in Kerala, India, will take audiences into the rare world of kalaripayattu martial arts, while narrating the history of the form along with contemporary significance and showing martial arts choreographies involving various weapons. 

Drive East is produced through Navatman, Inc. in partnership with APEtech. 

Navatman, Inc., led by Co- Artistic Directors Sridhar Shanmugam and Sahasra Sambamoorthi, is a performing arts organization that empowers the individual to nurture his or her personal evolution through interactions with the Indian classical arts.


Image courtesy of thesatimes

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