A Celebration of Dances From India

A Multicultural Journey to South Asia & Beyond!
11:30am - 4:30pm | Maffeo Sutton Park
Take a journey to South Asia and other parts of the world to learn, share and enjoy traditional and contemporary performances. Expect the unexpected. Be transported to the heart of the Indian subcontinent on a day spiced with variety. While ’there’ we will also teach you some dance moves that invite you to engage with us!
"I am so excited to be working with such rich and diverse artists from different backgrounds and to present their work at this uniquely mandated festival" - Guest Curator Rohit Chokhani
1130am: Intro by Rohit Chokhani. Desi Dragons Bhangra Classical dance performance with Nirmala Mandhakini Motukuri Indian Classical Dance performance
12:00pm: Dragon Boat Carnation Ceremony - Swy A Lana Lagoon
12:30pm: Timothy Allen and Island Times Saxophone Quartet 
1:05pm: Intro, setup, tech and performance: Classical Indian Music Mohamed Assani and and Gurdit Singh Namdhari
1:45pm: Bharatnatyam solo with Ashvini Sunthoram includes chat and intro 
2:00pm:  Nirmala Mandhakini Motukuri Indian Classical Dance performance include intro and chat
2:20pm:  Karima Essa Bollywood Solo includes performance and crowd interaction + intro 
2:40pm: Project Flamenca with Heather Sandison includes intro 
2:55pm: Bharatnatyam Ashvini Sunthoram includes intro and pre chat  
3:10pm: Karima Essa Bollywood Solo includes performance and crowd interaction + intro 
330pm: Headlining act with Cassius khan and Amika Kushwaha: includes setup, tech, intro, chat and performance 
Canada’s most recognizable Indian Classical musician, the globally renowned Cassius Khan is a performer of combining the Classical styles of Ghazal/Thumri singing and the Tabla, the North Indian pair of drums and presents both, simultaneously. He is the senior disciples of the late Malika e Tarannum Mushtari Begum (Dec 25th 1934-March 14th 2004) and Tabla maestro Ustad Rukhsar Ali, who belongs to the Delhi Gharana of Tabla playing. 

Combining Indian Classical singing with Tabla, for a single artist, is a first in Indian classical music. Many noted Indian Classical Music gurus have proclaimed that singing and playing Tabla in unison is a difficult feat to master as Tabla playing requires skill and strength, as well as an absolute concentration on the kaleidoscopic rhythm patterns of the repertoire, and singing requires absolute skill in the execution of notes and vibrations of the voice and excellent breathing control. Khan’s trademark is performing the extremely rare and difficult “Tarannum Ang Gayaki style” in which the lyrics share a different metre from the rhythm but they join at the Sum point in a certain phrase.

Outside of Indian Classical Music Khan has also lent his hands and voice to literally every genre of music spanning from Pop, Rock & Roll, Heavy Metal, Electronica and Rap to Asian, African, Aboriginal and South American Contemporary and Classical music genres, to Roots and Blues, Country and Jazz, to Indian Classical, Ballet, Flamenco and Tap Dance. This has resulted in him being hailed as “Canada’s Multifaceted Musician” by the Edmonton Journal.
Amika Kushwaha is a performer, choreographer and instructor of Kathak. She is one of the few Kathak artists in Canada who pairs her performances with live musical accompaniment. This live collaboration between dancer and musician enables moments of spontaneity and thus no two performances are ever the same. Her interactions with her audiences and her style of explanation of dance compositions have made her a delight to watch on stage. She has performed in notable festivals such as the Next Step Dance Festival, the Indian Electronica Festival, Vancouver Island, SXSW, Canada Music Week, Mission and Vancouver Folk Music Festivals.
Apart from showcasing this dance form in its traditional glamour, Amika has choreographed Kathak to many different musical genres and can intuitively interface with dancers from a variety of other dance forms, whether it be Flamenco, Canadian Step, Tap, African, or Ballet all while staying true to the art of Kathak.
Amika Kushwaha is also the Artistic Director and Co-Producer of the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance, which was founded to maintain and showcase classical Indian music in Western Canada.
In addition to dancing and performing music, Kushwaha holds an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and is a sought after Kathak instructor in Western Canada.  She currently accepts all levels of students and teaches in New Westminster, BC Canada.
Nirmala Mandhakini Motukuri is an Indian classical dancer and a Kuchipudi exponent. She has been learning and teaching dance for over a decade.
At the age of 9 she started learning dance with the encouragement of her parents M.Lakshmi and M.Shiva rama Krishna…Starting her dance career she had great gurus who made dance as her addiction, Guru Dr. Nirmala Visweswara rao, the legendary guru Pasumarthi ramalinga sastry and Vyjayanthi kashi who played a major role in understanding and molding her as a dancer.
She Completed her diploma in Kuchipudi dance, Mandhakini has been awarded with Natya Kiranam in 2011, and awarded with Guinness book of world records for performing in Maha Brunda Nrityam in the year 2010 & Natya Mayuri in the year 2017.
Ashvini Sundaram is a Vancouver-based performance artist specializing in Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian Classical dance originating in South India.
Bharatanatyam is an ancient, traditional form of dance using a vocabulary of intricate mathematical movements, hand gestures and eye movements, complex rhythm patterns, and theatrical acting in order to evoke emotions, tell a story or precipitate an aesthetic experience.
Over the years, Ashvini has received a comprehensive education in Indian Classical dance, music, literature and philosophy from local dance teachers and academics, and has also received training in ballet and contemporary dance.
Ashvini is currently pursuing professional training under India-based, multi-award winning danseuse, Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan, best known for her innovative and avant-garde works within the Indian Classical dance canon. 
Mohamed Assani is an award-winning sitar player and composer, known for being a proactive ambassador for his rich musical tradition. He has brought the sitar to new audiences through innovative collaborations that have stretched the boundaries of his instrument.
Mohamed has performed Hindustani classical music as well as his own original music across the globe — with orchestras, string quartets, hip hop artists, DJs, world music ensembles, jazz artists, Indian & Pakistani classical artists — and as a soloist.
According to the Georgia Straight, "Assani is both a musician who’s deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of South Asia and a one-of-a-kind innovator."
Born in the family of musicians, Gurdit Singh Namdhari promises to be a good Tabla player. He started Tabla training at the age of seven under the guidance of Ustad Late Shri Avtar Singh Namdhari Ji.
Thereafter, he continued training at the age of nine under the guidance of Late Padma Bhushan Pandit Samta Prasad Ji alias Gudai Maharaj Ji. He gave his first tabla performance with Guru Ji at the age of eleven at Kamai Auditorium. Now, he is an approved artist with All India Radio and giving his best performances for solo tabla recordings. At present, He is also performing with different artists in the field of music, this includes vocal, instrumental, dance etc. He is also performing with the band titled “Mystique”.
He had given performances at different places like Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Banglore, Punjab, Delhi, Kanpur, Pillani, etc. He had won many titles under tabla solo and group performances and also played for fusion music at the college time. He has been given many prizes for his mesmerizing performances at various places. He had also performed in live concert with Shubha Mudgal Ji at Celebration Gardens in Gurgaon for the launch party of Lladro. He had accompanied with various artists like Meeta Pandit, L.K. Pandit, Shubha Mudgal, Rajan Sajan Misra, Sukhmoy Banerjee, Jiternder Pal Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Gurdev Singh and Sukhdev Singh etc. Words by different artists include, “he is a humble, quite, promising and an intelligent tabla player”.
A three-time Canadian National Dance champion, Karima Essa is Vancouver’s very own Bollywood star.
An incredibly charismatic and passionate performer, choreographer and instructor, she has used her one-of-a-kind Bollywood talent to entertain diverse audiences at festivals, theatres and in schools across Canada. 
In 2014, her love for Bollywood took her to the screens in Mumbai, India, as a two-time finalist on Omni TV’s reality show, Bollywood Star. With style, grace and a flair for the dramatic, she has been captivating adult and young audiences for decades.
Projectflamenco is a community-based group of flamenco aficionados in Nanaimo who are inspired to explore all aspects of flamenco. While primarily focused on dance, the group also meets on a regular basis to listen to flamenco cante (song) and music as well as experiment with various percussive applications: palmas (hand-clapping), pitos (finger snapping), cajon (box drum) and more.
Projectflamenco is barely a year old and welcomes anyone interested in joining us by contacting projectflamenco@yahoo.com.
We are excited to be a part of today’s festival and we will be presenting 3 dances: tangos flamencos, tientos/tangos and finishing with Sevillanas. The first 2 dances are of a serious nature with the songs lamenting difficult romantic relationships while the 3rd dance, Sevillanas, is much more alegre and is danced in the streets and at fiestas. The lyrics in this particular song refer to their passion for their city, Seville.
Mailing Address: #5-150 Commercial Street Nanaimo, BC  V9R 5G6
Office Address: CIBC Nanaimo Arts Centre - 60 Wharf Street, Nanaimo, BC  V9R 5G6
PHONE: 250-716-3230
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