(Flushing, N.Y.) – On Saturday, November 21st, Flushing Town Hall will celebrate the Festival of Lights this November with its first-ever Diwali Festival, featuring internationally renowned musicians and dancers from India, workshops, a fashion show, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities.
The Diwali Festival is supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Con Edison; The New York Community Bank Foundation, and Flushing Bank.
The three-hour celebration features master artists: Abha Roy, teaching Kathak, Indian classical dance from northern India; Naren Budhakkar, performing on tabla drums; Indrajit Roy-Chowhury playing the sitar; Rohan Misra playing the sarangi; and, Falu vocalizing Hindustani classics. Additionally, there will be handmade jewelry from Rajni Anaarita for sale, and a guest speaker, Dr. Suman Bhatnagar from Unicef.
The event runs from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. Flushing, Queens. Tickets – $20/$15 Members/$10 Students & Children –are available at www.flushingtownhall.org. Additionally, Flushing Town Hall’s two matinee performances for school students on November 23rd have sold out!
Diwali, or Deepavali, comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “row of lights.” It is a day of solidarity, where the soft light of diyas – or oil-wick candles – illuminate streets and homes, banishing the darkness of ignorance and suffering. Diwali began as a part of an ancient harvest festival, which celebrated the fertility of the earth and prosperity of the new harvest. Though Diwali has taken on a significant meaning in Hinduism, in India, it is still celebrated by all groups regardless of religious affiliation as a time of renewal and growth.
“Diwali is a festive time of gift-giving, charity and sharing in feasts with loved ones,” said Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of Flushing Town Hall. “By hosting this event, we hope to celebrate this season and provide audiences with an experience to fill all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and more. I fully expect this Festival to become a new and vibrant tradition.”
“Audiences will learn Kathak dance steps with Abha Roy, the director of Srijan Dance Center and a Teaching Artist at Flushing Town Hall,” added Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Director of Education and Public Programs at Flushing Town Hall, noted that Flushing Town Hall is launching the Festival to celebrate the growing Indian community in Queens, and New York City.
“The idea actually originated when our Teaching Artist, Abha Roy, invited me to the Rangmanch Pravesh (graduation concert or dance debut of a Kathak dancer) of her student Sarika Persaud at the Flushing Hindu Temple,” said Ms. Hamilton, who also is a folklorist and educator. “I was blown-away by the expert musicians and dancers on stage, and immediately afterwards, I encouraged Abha to bring these great artists to the larger community of Queens. In fact, many of the same musicians and dancers from the Rangmanch Pravesh will perform at our Diwali Festival.”
Abha Roy has blazed a trail of her own in the sphere of Kathak, a classic northern Indian dance form. Abha started her career as a classical dancer in 1984, completing her diploma in Kathak under the guidance of late great Guru Kundan Lal Gangani. She attained professional precision under the training of Pt. Durgalal when she completed her specialization in Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. She has served on the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, dancing Kathak around the world as commissioned representative of Indian dance. Abha has conducted workshops and classes for New York City schools, universities, libraries and museums since 1992 and is the founding director of Srijan Dance Center.
Sarika Persaud is a senior student of Abha’s. She has been learning Kathak for 13 years. Sarika had her rangmanch pravesh, or professional debut, in October 2014. She is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical-School Child Psychology program at Pace University.
Amanjeet Kaur has been learning Kathak under the guidance of Abha for 11 years. Since beginning at the age of 11, she has advanced in ability learning Kathak and is now on her way to mastering intricate footwork, technical compositions, and contemporary dance pieces. She has performed both classical and fusion pieces, gained experience in folk dance, collaborated with live musicians, and performed thumris, taranas, tihais, and gatas.
Dr. Santa Nandi started her training in Indian classical dance at a very young age, and has attended undergraduate and medical schools as well as dance classes at the same time. She has been completely comfortable practicing medicine as her profession, while passionately pursuing dance performances.
Falu is internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive style with a formidable Indian classically shaped vocal talent. In her early years in Bombay, Falu (aka Falguni Shah) was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition and the Benares style of Thumrie. She later continued studying under the late Sarangi/vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, and continues to study with the legendary Smt. Kishori Amonkar (Jaipur style).
Naren Budhakar is a versatile tabla player with high aesthetic sense. He has worked with various prominent vocalists, instrumentalists and dancers of Indian classical music tradition. He also has contributed his table to varied musical genres, including pop, rock, Irish Celtic, and jazz. He has played at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Museum, Getty Museum, Indian Ambassador’s residence, the U.S. Open National Tennis Center, and Carnegie Hall, as well as abroad, including in France, Czech Republic and Scandinavia.
Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury is a disciple of the sitar master Pandit Subroto Roy-Chowdhury. Groomed in the Veen-kar style of the Senia Gharana, which maintains the Dhrupadi origins of Indian classical music, Indrajit strives to innovate while keeping a firm connection with the past. Indrajit has received the Bennenson Award for the Arts to further his study of Indian classical music. Since then, he has taken the profession of a full-time sitarist and has performed on stages across the world, including at such prestigious venues as Gyan Mancha, Hammerstein Ballroom, and the Kennedy Center.
Rohan Misra is the son and disciple of the great sarangi virtuoso Pandit Ramesh Misra. Rohan started earning the sarangi from this father at the age of six. He also learned the piano, clarinet, and table. His exposure to music since childhood influenced him to play an Indian instrument and become the ninth generation in his family to play sarangi. He has performed across the country, including at Carnegie Hall, Columbia University, MIT, and the Smithsonian.
The mission of Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts (FCCA) is to present multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens, New York and New York City, New York, in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, we support local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance our efforts. As a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), we serve as stewards of Flushing Town Hall, restoring, managing and programming the historic 1862 landmark on behalf of the City of New York. FCCA celebrates the history of Queens as the home of Jazz, by presenting the finest in Jazz performance. We are committed to arts education and hands-on learning, for the arts-curious, arts enthusiasts, and professional artists. We serve one of the most diverse communities in the world, and strive to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined our community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657.
For Tickets & More info, visit: www.flushingtownhall.org