Spain's India House director Guillermo Rodriguez on the India Festival currently on in Valladolid.
Casa de la India's fourth edition of the annual India Festival in Valladolid, Spain, is in full flow. Festival performances start 11 June. This year the festival not only includes Indian classical and allied performing arts but also seminars, lectures and film shows, besides master classes in Indian classical music and dance. Some of the well-known artistes invited to participate in this year's festival in Valladolid include Sonal Mansingh (Odissi), T.A.S Mani (percussion ensemble), Dhananjay Kaul (Hindustani vocal), P. Unnikrishnan (Carnatic vocal), Rama Vaidyanathan (Bharatanatyam) and others.
Casa de la India, or India House, is an Indian cultural centre founded with the help of the Indian Embassy in Spain, the Town Hall of Valladolid and the University of Valladolid. Casa de la India's director, Guillermo Rodriguez, is an energetic young individual, who seems to think only of India day in and day out. Excerpts from a chat with the dedicated director:
What is the background of the festival?
We have been organising the India Festival since 2004 in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Embassy of India in Spain, Ayuntamiento de Valladolid, Universidad de Valladolid (University of Valladolid), Junta de Castilla y Leon and others. We have had maestros such as Birju Maharaj, L. Subramaniam, Astad Deboo and many others presenting Indian classical arts to packed auditoriums.
Is the aim to showcase Indian classical arts to the Spanish people?
Not only to showcase Indian classical arts, but also to give the wonderful concept of co-existence of classical arts along with popular arts in India. Here in Spain and elsewhere in Europe too, most people think classical music means chamber concerts. Whereas in India, classical musicians enjoy the same status as popular musicians or Bollywood stars. This kind of phenomenon is rare in Spain, and we aim to project this aspect also.
Do the master classes being conducted from time to time attract Spanish students?
Of course. It's always full. Birju Maharaj's Kathak master classes, Odissi and Bharatanatyam by other maestros, were all a big hit among the youngsters.
What happens if some students who have attended these workshops want to continue classes on a regular basis?
We have residencies where we invite a guru from India on a long-term assignment.
Besides those agencies supporting the cause, are there other individuals who have contributed to the development of your institution?
Yes. Our board consists of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ratan Tata and others, and we do get good support from them.