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Two countries, two cultures, seven cities: one festival

See dance, music, handicrafts, theatre and exhibitions at the inaugural national festival of Indian arts

Photograph: supplied

Confluence Festival of India in Australia is the most significant showcase of Indian arts and culture ever to be staged in Australia, taking place in seven cities across the country between August and November 2016.

The festival program includes world-class dance, theatre and music as well as conferences and workshops on Indian innovation, politics and sport. Events are scheduled in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. One of the festival’s key components is fostering bilateral ties, with joint performances and collaborations between Indian and Australian artists and thinkers. 

Transposition

Ishara is a language of gestures developed over the years by the puppeteers, actors, dancers and artists of India's puppetry traditions. The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust is committed to creating awareness, education and exposure of these traditions by mounting a production of Rashna Imhasly’s book “The Psychology of Love – Wisdom of Indian Mythology” that explores the illusions of love. Challenge yourself to see something different with this non-verbal performance featuring three large puppets, dancers, projections and a musical score of chanting. 

Perth, Canberra, Melbourne.

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Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project

Sonam Kalra is trained in Indian classical music as well as classical opera, jazz and gospel, and she blends all these influences together for the Sufi Gospel Project. This is a musical performance that showcases the universal language of faith; western gospel melds with Indian classical sounds, and Indian spiritual texts are enriched by elements of western poetry.

Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra.

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Sriyah

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble will be bringing the bright costumes and sensual movements of their work, 'Sriyah', to Australian stages for the festival to showcase the traditional Odissi dance style of India. They are an internationally touring troupe trained in the deeply spiritual Odissi Indian dance practice that looks to bridge the world of humans and the divine, taking its cues from temple sculptures, drum beats and classical Oriya music. When they are not touring the dancers study, practice and teach this classical dance style at a dance school built on ten acres of farmland.

Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane.

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The Raghu Dixit Project

An indie durge is all well and good, but when you want music to lift you up and transport you to a new place, that's when you reach for the likes of Raghu Dixit. This famous Indian performer mixes traditional musical styles and sounds with a modern sensibility and finds a happy medium. Didn't make it to Woodford Folk Festival last year? Then get your world music fix by locking down tickets to The Raghu Dixit Project 

Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth.

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Jatayu Moksham

The Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai specialises in mythology-based dance dramas. For their appearance at the Confluence Festival of India in Australia they are mounting a production based on the Sanskrit epic poem Ramayana. The ensemble will perform Jatayu Moksham, taken from the Ramayana, whose story follows a prince's banishment by his father, his adventures across India and the war he wages to rescue his wife after her kidnapping. 

Melbourne, Perth, Canberra. 

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Piya Behrupiya - Twelfth Night

Turns out Shakespeare isn't just limited to high school texts and Opera House productions, and it isn't limited to English either. For Confluence, The Company Theatre (tct) is bringing their production of Twelfth Night (Piya Behrupiya) to Australian stages and performing the classic comedy in Hindi, accompanied by dancers and musicians performing in traditional styles from Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide.

 

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Yoga - Science of Infinite Possibilities

Love yoga for the stretching and strength? Well prepare to go deeper at Yoga - Science of Infinite Possibilities. The conference is organised by The Vedanta Centre of Sydney and S-VYAYA University of Yoga Sciences to examine the benefits of yoga. Scientists, academics and yoga professionals from India, the US, New Zealand and Australia will be gathering to share their knowledge and research on subjects as diverse as depression, anxiety, ADHD in children, drug and alcohol abuse and rehabilitation, diabetes, Pranic healing, revitalising energy, sports performance enhancement, yoga for ageing, women’s health and general wellness and mindfulness.

Sydney.

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Adrian McNeil

The sarod is a lute from northern India, and ethnomusicologist Dr. Adrian McNeil has spent 25 years learning to play Hindustani music on the stringed instrument, under the watchful eyes of Pandit Ashok Roy, Professor Sachindranath Roy and Dr. Ashok Ranade. Showcasing his skills on the sarod, Dr McNeil will take a break from his traditional ensemble (Rasa Duende) to play with one of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan, for a night of classical Indian music by experts in their field.

Melbourne.

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Pung Cholom

What is the Pung Cholom, we hear you ask? It's a classical dance of Manipur, a state in India's far northeastern corner, to the east of Bangladesh and bordering Myanmar. A pung is a drum played by dancers who keep percussive time while executing acrobatic dance moves inspired by Manpuri martial arts. The traditional dance starts out slowly and gently before building momentum to a thunderous climax.

Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra.

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Shubhendra and Saskia Rao

You might not think of sitar and cello when considering the world's great instrumental pairings, but Shubhendra and Saskia Rao are marrying their classical instruments to create an avant-garde musical offering that is steeped in traditional Indian musical practice. The real life couple will be showcasing their two-person symphony in Alice Springs as artists in residence at the Desert Song Festival. 

Alice Springs.

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Bapu - The Craftsperson's Vision

Sydney and Brisbane will be hosting an exhibiton of khadi, India’s hand spun and hand woven national fabric. The exhibiton will showcase diverse khadi weaves and textures, spinning wheels, garments and the fabric's future applications in the fashion industry as an eco-friendly and versatile product.

Sydney, Brisbane.

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Exhibition by Cartoonist Ajit Ninan

Political cartoonists are commentators that must balance on a knife-edge; they are there to provide comic relief, but also to satirise and challenge the social issues and major players of the current political climate. This condition is the same the world over, which is why India's beloved political cartoonist Ajit Ninan is hosting an exhbition of his work from his Centre Stage series in India Today magazine and Ninan’s World in the Times of India. In addition to the exhibition Ninan will also host workshops with Australian cartoonists David Pope in Canberra and Mark Knight in Melbourne. If you're a 'First Dog on the Moon' fan, this is the exhibition for you.

Melbourne, Canberra.

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Bollywood Workshop

Ever dreamt of busting out some Bollywood moves on the dancefloor? Want to be able to feature in your own musical number when you're walking down the street? Well you're going to need the help of Gilles Chuyen, a Bollywood instructor who has been trained in Chhau Mayurbhanj, Kathak and Bharatnatyam dance styles. Chuyen is hosting Bollywood dance classes along Australia's east coast during the Confluence Festival.

Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra.

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Exhibition of Vintage Hindustani Musical Instruments

In 1881 Melbourne was sent a curious collection of ninety classical and folk instruments, plus books and pamphlets from from Northern India to be showcased at the Melbourne International Exhibition. In addition to many familiar instruments there were also rare hybrid instruments in the collection like the nadeswara vina (half violin and half sitar). In honour of our long-standing cultural and diplomatic ties with India, this rare collection will be out on display at Monash Uni during the festival.

Melbourne

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Mahatma in Me

Borderless Gandhi aims to promote peace, nonviolence and equality through artistic reflections on the life, work and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. To celebrate their launch in Australia, Borderless Gandhi will be presenting an exhibiton titled 'Mahatma in Me' by Delhi based artist Vibhor Sogani who renders his art in stainless steel. Sogani's work, which is designed to promote personal reflection, will be installed at Elizabeth Quay in front of the Bell Tower in Perth and open on October 2nd, Mahatma Gandhi´s birthday and International Day of Nonviolence. 

Perth.

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Cricket Connects

Australia and India share many things, but a love of cricket has to be at the top of the list, and it's been this way for decades. To celebrate the long-standing brotherhood of the bat, Confluence will feature an exhibiton called Cricket Connect featuring archival images, documentary footage, interactive multimedia and quizzes on the history of our two cricketing nations. It will explore cricket in the time of the British Empire and touch on the first tours by Australia and India's national teams. Don Bradman’s achievements in India will also be on show. Check it out for  past and present highlights from cricket gods, and moments of glory in the history of the game.

Sydney, Melbourne.

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Exhibition by Architect Bijoy Jain

MPavilion is a temporary summer pavilion dedicated to architecture and design. It was designed by acclaimed Indian architect, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai. Head to the Queen Victoria Gardens where the pavilion will host a free program of talks, workshops, installations and performances. And if you want to know more about what inspired the pavilion head to RMIT Gallery in Melbourne for an exhibition on the process and Studio Mumbai's work generally.  

Melbourne.

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Aneesh Pradhan

It's not everyday you get an opportunity to see one of India’s leading tabla players live. Even more rare is an opportunity to receive instruction from the disciple of the illustrious tabla maestro Nikhil Ghosh. Luckily for percussionists and traditional music fans, Aneesh Pradhan will be presenting a lecture and demonstration on tabla solos from the Delhi, Ajrada, Lucknow, Farrukhabad and Punjab gharanas (classical music schools or methods).

Melbourne.

 

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