Sixteenth Edition of SIFAS Festival has an inspiring start!
What an inspiring first week it’s been in the SIFAS Festival of Indian Classical Music, Dance and Arts 2018! Outstanding music and dance solos, a thrilling display of intricate choreography brilliantly executed in the production Prakriti Vikriti, a SIFAS campus turned into an art gallery with purple themed original paintings at every turn, a buzzing art workshop tent, and a return to the glory days of a sparkling festival canteen!
Fittingly, for a festival renamed to reflect all the art forms taught at SIFAS, the festival was inaugurated on March 16 by Singapore’s numero uno in the field of policy and promotion of all the art forms in Singapore, Ms Rosa Daniel of the National Arts Council. She entered the gloriously decorated SIFAS campus to the welcoming strains of the Perumal temple nadaswara and tavil vidwans. The festival kicked off with a brilliant vocal concert by the invited Indian Carnatic vocalist, the young Vignesh Eshwar. A disciple of T M Krishna, Vignesh’s vocal concert was a fantastic start to the festival, as he maintained concert repertoire paddhati, and yet reflected the creativity and resonant singing of his illustrious guru. The highlight of his concert was an extremely moving alapana in Sankarabharanam as a prelude to Tyagaraja’s manasu swadhina. Divya Ravi, an upcoming dancer from Bengaluru excelled in her depiction of Krishna Leela in the Reetigowlai varnam, Shree Krishna Kamala natho.
The first weekend was dominated by three housefull showings of Prakriti Vikriti, a lavish production about “Nature’s nature,” performed in the Esplanade Theatre studio by all the SIFAS dance gurus, ten music gurus, and ten students and alumni. Conceived by renowned scholar poet Dr Pappu Venugopala Rao, with original lyrics combined with classic works, and with music composed by the multi-talented violinist, singer and composer Dr Sriram Parasuram, the vigorous performance showcasing Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi, the three styles taught at SIFAS was a tour de force. The music and the dance competed for the audience’s attention, as each complemented the author – and there was an extremely high standard of vocal music, instrumental support, and energetic dancing with creative group choreography throughout the ninety minutes. Rave reviews of the performance continued to pour in throughout the following week. The Indian High Commissioner, Javed Ashraf was full of praise for both the message of the production and its execution in chaste Indian classical music and dance by the SIFAS team of Gurus, alumni and students.
Some of the highlights of the SIFAS stage concerts in the first eight days (March 16 to 23) of the festival were
The purple colour theme imbued the SIFAS campus with a distinctive ambience – with purple themed paintings lining the corridors, and gracefully draped purple fabric softening the starkness of the steel bars in the “school hall” auditorium that is the SIFAS hall. A first in the 16th edition of the festival, a number of art workshops conducted throughout the weekends attracted a large crowd of aspiring young and adult artistes who were introduced to a variety of art forms from Tanjore paintings, to Warli, to single stroke and fabric painting and many others. The festival canteen which had undergone a slight downturn in the previous two festivals was back to the glory days of the early festival, with one of the leading vegetarian restaurants in Singapore, Gokul serving a wide and varying and extremely reasonably priced menu of North and South Indian and Singaporean favourites.
There were several innovations in the sixteenth edition of this festival that were well appreciated by regular festival goers.