The Other Festival is back

DECEMBER IS a month of festivals in Chennai — festivals of music, dance, drama and art. "The Other Festival" returns to the city for the fifth successive year. With the city's famous heritage site, The Museum Theatre, closing down for major renovations this year, The Other Festival, shifts its venue to The Chinmaya Heritage Centre, No. 2, 13 Avenue, Harrington Road (Opp. Lady Andal School).

Co-founded in 1998 by dancer-choreographer/cultural activist Anita Ratnam (Arangham Trust) and theatre person Ranvir Shah (Prakriti Foundation), The Other Festival, to be held from December 1 to 7 this year, presents a range of talent from around India, the U.S., France, Canada, South Africa and Israel.

Says Anita Ratnam, Co-Artistic Director, The Park's The Other Festival, "This is India's only contemporary arts festival for tomorrow. It challenges stereotypes and asks audiences to actively participate in the theatrical experience. While most festivals deal either only with theatre or visual art or exclusively with dance and music, our event embraces all these art forms in a whole week's celebration!

The Other Festival is back

Artistic Director, Ranvir Shah says, "We are delighted to have been able to reach out to newer audiences and build a wider base for the absorption of newer, exciting and experimental culture-in-progress through the festival."

Priya Paul, president, The Park Hotels, brand sponsor of the event says, " The Park Hotels believes it must play an active role in the preservation and continuation of arts and creativity in India."

December 1-7: Video art by Viraj Singh and Govind Kumar titled "Cinema Verite" will be screened at regular intervals at The Park lobby. The 20-minute looped film will explore the space that cinema occupies in Indian society and its effect on the psyche. Viraj Singh's primary focus is on cinematography and documentary work as well as commercial cinema. Govind Kumar has trained in computer graphics abroad and primarily works as a visual effects supervisor for films.

December 1, 7 p.m.: Usha Ganguli of Rangakarmee, Kolkata, presents "Antar Yatra", a solo theatre in Hindi. In this, there is a whole history of Indian womanhood played out in a large social space covering middle class homes, the urban working woman, the rural woman as well as the dramatic moments in history in the 19th Century Bengal and Fascist Germany.

December 2, 7 p.m.: STEM Dance Theatre of Madhu Nataraj-Heri from Bangalore presents a contemporary group dance, "Moh — In The Realm Of Love". "Moh" explores the different shades of love. While the dance idiom moves from traditional to contemporary, music and design come together to create an interdisciplinary and multicultural presentation. At 7.45 p.m. on the same day, there will be contemporary music by Amit Heri Group from Bangalore. Guitarist/composer Amit Heri has not only performed at international music festivals but also scored music for feature films and dance productions. Drawing from various musical cultures, including Latin, Indian, Contemporary, Jazz and European music, the group performs original compositions that range from mellow to fiery.

The Other Festival is back

December 3, 7 p.m.: Arangham Dance Theatre from Chennai and Dance Alloy from the U.S. present "Dust", a contemporary dance production. A multi-cultural collaboration between Anita Ratnam and Mark Taylor of Dance Alloy, "Dust" was choreographed on two dancers from each company, with music by Alice Shields. The sound sources include Tibetan trumpets, Tibetan ritual conch shells and Indian music. The work displays kinetic, aesthetic and cultural interfaces with a blend of the Japanese Butoh dance, Bharatanatyam and modern styles.

December 4, 7 p.m.: Nritarutya from Bangalore presents "And... ", a contemporary dance. A group of dancers, each from different dance and martial art backgrounds such as Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Kalaripayattu and Taekwondo, working with varied ideas and themes, present "And" which symbolises the yoking together of their disparate factors. At 7.45 p.m., Aditi Mangaldas, Kathak dancer from New Delhi, presents "Rhythm & Sound", a contemporary dance production. An extract from "The Hidden Stream", "Rhythm & Sound" explores the vibrant sounds that echo through dance, discovering silent rhythms, going beyond traditional footwork.

The Other Festival is back

December 5, 7 p.m.: "lifeDUETS" by Kaeja d' Dance from Canada. Karen and Allen Kaeja come together to present this mixed repertory programme. In "Elements Of Touch", Karen and Allen dust off layers of relationship residue revealing intricate openings of intimacy bound by time. "Desperate Song" describes the dissolving images of the body's memory tracing a lingering touch. The pieces were premiered in Toronto. The commissioned choreographers include Marie-Jos� Chartier, Peter Bingham and Claudia Moore. This will be followed by a series of short films directed by Allen Kaeja and Mark Adam, such as "Sarah", "Zummel" and "1939". December 6, 7 p.m.: Richard Galliano from France will give a solo performance on accordion. At 8 p.m., Working Title's "Mahadevbhai", play in English will be staged. Working Title, Mumbai, has a reputation of bringing unperformed, original plays by Indian writers to the stage. Mahadev Desai was Gandhiji's secretary from 1917 to 1942 and was a key witness to the fight for freedom. He maintained a daily diary. "Mahadevbhai" is a one-person play, which attempts to remind us of the times that were and people's devotion to truth.

December 7, 7 p.m.: Tribhangi Dance Theatre's (South Africa) "Essence of Rhythm". Jayespri Moopen, Artistic Director of the Tribhangi Dance Theatre, has won accolades in South Africa for her pioneering efforts in juxtaposing and synthesising Indian dance with African dance and music. "Essence Of Rhythm" explores African Renaissance by securing some form of entrenched African content either in terms of its theme, design or movement. At 7.45 p.m., Rina Schenfeld from Israel will give a solo performance of contemporary dance, "Swans". Schenfeld works with a range of objects such as threads, sticks, poles, rubber strips, tubes and fabrics, in creating a "tour de force" of startling dramatic impact.

Daily tickets of denomination Rs. 50 are available (at the venue from December 1) at Landmark, Odyssey, Shilpi, VJ's Diner and Unwind Center. For further information, contact Arangham Trust at 8524917, 8522066.