Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma performs Monday, May 25 in the Bagley Wright Theatre. • Courtesy Photo
Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma performs Monday, May 25 in the Bagley Wright Theatre. • Courtesy Photo

It’s been the tradition of Northwest Folklife to celebrate at its signature festival event each May one of the many cultures that make up the greater Pacific Northwest. This year, Northwest Folklife will showcase a history of east Indian traditions, styles, and identities across six different stages at Seattle Center.

“Folklife works with over 100 communities each festival,” lead programmer Kelli Faryar said. “Most of our community showcases are framed in a two-to-three hour window, which is only a glimpse into who and what these particular communities thrive on and the traditions that they are passing along. Our cultural focus allows us to further engage a community and showcase who they are not just at the festival, but throughout the year and with a much greater platform.”

The 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival, which takes place May 23 to 26, offers an opportunity to learn more about the Indian community of the Northwest through panels and discussions, films, dance and music presentations, visual arts, and even a chance to learn how to dance Bollywood.

This year, Northwest Folklife has been working closely with The India Association of Western Washington (IAWW) on the event. IAWW provides a common identity to the Indian community and facilitates cultural, social, educational services, and opportunities for cultural integration from young to old of the community. IAWW also fosters those activities that enhance mutual understanding and appreciation between the Indo-American community and mainstream American community. Here are some highlights from the 2014 Northwest Folklife Festival’s cultural focus on India:

  • Bollywood Show (Exhibition Hall—Friday, 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.): An array of Bollywood Dance performances curated by Mollie Singh, director and curator of Bollywood Seattle. The “Bollywood Show” gives audiences a chance to experience various Bollywood dance styles, Indian folk dance, and the Bollywood story through this dance form. Featuring Vibha Srinivasan, Queen Harish, UW Bollywood Kahaani, Nachle, Bolly Dance Moves, UW DangeRaas Dawgs, Bollywood Seattle, Desi Girls, Bhangrea with Chi.
  • Color & Cultures of India (Bagley Wright Theatre—Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.): A popular, classical Indian dance style, Kathak originated in ancient northern India, and contains traces of temple and ritual dance. The “Colors & Cultures of India” showcase will feature an elaborate array of all-ages Kathak dance performance from areas with other Indian dance styles interwoven. Featuring Leela Kathak Dancers, Nupur Dancing Superstars, Anga Kala Kathak Academy, Urvasi Dance Ensemble, Mohini Dance School, Sangeetha Nrithyalaya, Tanjavur Dance School, Vidhi Jain, Arpan, Nrityalaya Dance.
  • Music Across India (Center Theatre—Sunday, 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.): Three performances featuring music from first-time Folklife group-performers Junior Tabla Eastside, a Carnatic music presentation from internationally-known artist Priya Raghav, as well as presentation of Indian instrumental music from the students of Anjali Music School. Featuring Junior Tabla (Group Indian Drumming), Proya Raghav (South Indian Classical Vocal), Vadya Vrinda (Indian Instrumental Music).
  • Fashion of India (Exhibition Hall—Sunday, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.): Àtiz Fashion House presents “The Fashions of India: Then and Now.” Catch a live catwalk-style fashion show at the Folklife Festival. The fashions of Àtiz Fashion House balance the concept of feminine beauty found in both Indian and America. Behold the opulent textiles and brilliant colors swirling in translucent layers.
  • Mahishasura Mardini Kuchipudi Dance Ballet (Bagley Wright Theatre—Sunday, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.): A grand and traditional Indian opera, Mahishasura Mardini Kuchipudi will fill the Bagley Wright Theatre with music and dance. Starring internationally renowned Indian dancer Sri Pasumarthi Venkateswara Sarma, this is the first operatic dance ballet of this caliber to be produced at the Folklife Festival and seating is limited.

For more information and for a schedule of all the festivities, visit www.nwfolklife.org/festival.

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