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Invoking Bulleh Shah

This year, for the first time since its inception four years ago, the Ahsas International Dance Arts Festival will include live music. The performance titled Project Bulleya, inspired by the poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah, is the culmination of contemporary dancer Sumeet Nagdev’s collaboration with London-based musicians Soumik Datta and Bernhard Schimpelsberger.


Contemporary dancer Sumeet Nagdev

When Nagdev heard Circle of Sound — Datta and Schimpelsberger’s band — perform at the Blue Frog earlier this year, he was determined to work with the duo. Datta’s invention of the electric sarod has allowed him to give a contemporary twist to the Indian classical instrument. Austrian-born Schimpelsberger, who plays his drum kit like a tabla maestro, also enjoys blending Western and Eastern sounds.

On Nagdev’s suggestion, the musicians decided to create a performance based on Bulleh Shah’s poetry. “I was amazed at how relevant his 300-year-old poems were. They’re extremely progressive,” says Schimpelsberger. Because they found the poems suitable for contemporary consumption, the trio decided to incorporate personal experiences and stories into the performance.


Soumik Datta and Bernhard Schimpelsberger

“We have chosen three poems that talk about love, learning, and our reason for being. Each of us has a story relevant to the three poems,” explains Nagdev. While most of the concert will have Nagdev dancing solo to the duo’s music, all three will take turns with their narratives. “Our performance is centred around the human tendency to search for answers,” reveals Schimpelsberger, who will talk about his experience of studying Indian classical music under his guru Pandit Suresh Talwalkar in Pune. The music they composed for the performance, adds the drummer, is inspired by Nagdev’s movements.

When: April 28, 7 pm onwards
Where: St Andrews Auditorium, Bandra
Call: 24366777/ 6/ 1 

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