Alchemy – a festival for the UK and the Indian sub-continent
Lovers of Indian and south-Asian cultures will definitely not want to miss this weekend’s festival in Southbank Centre. Alchemy 2012 – a project developed with collaborations from British Council, the Nehru Centre and Pan Asian Women Association among plenty of other partners – is a feast for the eyes, ears and palate. The sample market’s food, the variety of crafts and all the activities indoors make the festival a great experience for all ages and tastes.
“A contemporary view of tradition with many ways to join in,” is how Rachel Harris (Southbank Centre Artistic Programming) describes Alchemy, which started on 12th April and will go on until Sunday 22nd. Indeed, a walk around will immediately reveal that everyone is busy with something: music, dance, singing, or simply debating about classical and contemporary arts and traditions.
Throughout Alchemy, you can watch film crews setting up and capturing bits of the festival for one of the biggest and most exciting challenges Southbank has taken on this year: producing its very own Bollywood movie in a week. This Bollywood Blockbuster involves dancers, actors, writers and musicians from across London, all working along with poet Nikesh Shukla, director Aneil Karia and choreographer Shobna Gulati.
One of the greatest things about this festival, just like all other events and exhibitions Southbank hosts each month, is that there is so much to choose from that one can turn up at any minute of the morning or afternoon and it would still be a perfect time to watch free shows, or even get involved in some. These include Symposium: Sri Lanka, by internationally renowned composer and tabla player Sarvar Sabri and the Sabri Ensemble; or Morning Yoga, led by The Art of Living Foundation. Other performances include Rasa: Looking for Kool, a one-woman show by Rani Moorthy (£10) or When Springs Comes, a children’s performance by Half Moon (£8).
Yesterday’s beautiful performance, Friday Lunch, was by Rosabella Gregory, a British singer-songwriter, and her quartet, who played a few songs of her new album, Dangerous Games, for about an hour.
During the festival, you can also get a sneak preview of The Arrival, a show based on Oscar-winner Shaun Tan’s graphic novel of the same name, which tells the story of a man who leaves everything behind and faces a new life. It is a deeply touching tale of migration explored through images, words and music, and conveyed by a beautiful choreography rehearsed in situ in the Royal Festival Hall foyers.
The Arrival runs three times a day (3.30pm, 6pm and 10pm on Fri/Sat, and 3.30pm, 4.45pm, 10pm on Sunday 22nd) and it definitely contributes to make Alchemy worth a visit. For more information on this weekend’s events and ticketing click here.