A packed audience at a Dubai auditorium witnessed a specially choreographed dance performance sychronised with music, and poetry of Shihab Ghanem, a UAE poet. No stranger to India, Dr. Ghanem is the winner of the Tagore award, in recognition of his own poems as well translation of world poetry, particularly Indian poems into Arabic.
Sohini Roychowdhury, described by some as “a rebel with a cause” left the audience enthralled with a string of energetic performances which included a dance based on Dr. Ghanem’s poem. A natural meant for the big stage, Ms. Roychowdhury presented Flamenco Natyam — a dance that combines Spanish Flamenco with Indian Bharatnatyam. Belonging to a generation of globalised Indians, her troupe too has an eclectic flavour — consisting of artistes from Europe, Latin America, the United States and India. The name of her organisation, Sohinimoksha World Dance and Communications also reflects Ms. Roychowdhury’s integrative international approach to art.
“Flamenco Natyam became a reality because the commonality of Indian and Spanish folk rhythms. Perhaps this was a result of a migration of gypsies at one time though the deserts of Rajasthan before they ended up at the Mediterranean coast,” said the danseuse at a press conference before the start of the performance.
There was no dearth of world class talent at the concert meant to raise funds for The Global Mission to Seafarers, an international organisation that supports sailors worldwide. Aashish Khan, a sarod “maverick maestro” with a proud musical ancestry—he is the son of the legendary Ali Akbar Khan—joined forces with the skilled Tabla master Swapan Chaudhari, to produce musical synergy with a rare international flair. Ustad Khan’s osmotic global experience—his collaborations with John Barham, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—showed in his performance, which combined harmoniously with Pandit Chaudhuri’s renditions on Tabla. Pandit Chaudhuri wears several hats—he is currently the department chairperson for world music at the California Institute of Art in Los Angeles, as well as the director or percussion at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.
India’s generation next of musicians also made its presence felt at the “Inner Voyage” concert. Sarod player Shiraz Ali Khan, grandson of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and leader of India’s popular world music band, “Indian Blue” combined effortlessly with his uncle at the show. Arijit Tagore also exhibited glimpses of his rare talent at the Tabla, as did Dishari Chakraborty—a performer of the Maihar tradition of Indian classical music. A creative director of an Indian advertising agency, Subodh Poddar show- cased his rare talent of turning magical moments of dance performance into calligraphic paintings. His on-the-spot calligraphic sketches of the Sohinimoksha dance performance were donated for auction to the Mission to Seafarers. The Arab Indian Intellectual Forum hosted the concert—its Indo-Arab star cast comprising Dr. Ghanem, Waiel Awwad, South Asia Bureau Chief of MBC Al Arabiya, diplomat and author K.P. Fabian and writer Lajo Gupta.