Sangam presents Birrarung: Dada-Desi featuring 12 emerging and established artists in a night of performances inspired by or connected to the South Asian diaspora in Australia. Hosted by award-winning writer, comic and performance-maker, Vidya Rajan, NovD showcases the classical and contemporary, the experimental and the inspired, including standup comedy, vocal and dance performances, music ensembles and literary readings. Co-curated by Nithya Iyer and Vidya Rajan in collaboration with the Sangam festival Featuring a fantastic lineup: Aarti Jadu, Sonia Nair, Arjunan Puveendran, Kersherka Sivakumaran, Nanthesh Sivarajah, Bhairavi Raman, Aparna Ananthuni, Maiyurenthan Srikumar, Kirshan Sabeshkumar, Kier Stephens, Tony Hicks, Adrian Sheriff, Pedro Cooray, Pavan Dutta, Sunanda Satchatrakul, Sumudu Samarawickrama, Shriraam Theiventhiran.
Sangam Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora brings together high profile, award winning, globally renowned professional artists from India on the same platform as established and emerging South Asian Australian artists, and artists of diverse backgrounds, committed to the Indian arts, based in Melbourne. Framing the experimental in conversation with the classical this festival intervenes on a number of levels in the Melbourne arts scene.
Uthra Vijay is the Artistic Director of Keerthana School of Music in Melbourne that she founded in 2003. She is a versatile artist, composer and educator, who is equally comfortable working in the classical realm or experimenting with non-classical forms of music including popular music and contemporary forms. She has an extensive background in Indian classical music. She has performed in Australia, India, and Europe extensively as a performer and composer on inter-cultural and site specific performances. She has collaborated with Iranian, Yiddish, Surinamese, Flamenco and First Nation artists and been featured in several festivals such as Mapping Melbourne, Jaipur Literary Festival, AsiaTOPA and Australia Festival in India.
Hari Sivanesan is a unique representation of the new generation of Indian classical contemporary artists of international acclaim. He was born and trained in the UK and brings his Sri Lankan heritage, South Indian, North Indian and Western classical music training together. A veena artist, vocalist, composer and producer, his practice, performance style and mindset negotiates both the austere classicism of the South Asian arts with the experimental and contemporary work. Having performed internationally since his teens, his collaborations with/for BBC Radio & TV, BBC Proms, WOMAD, the Royal Opera House, Darbar Festival and Multicultural Arts Victoria have won much acclaim. A new resident to Australia, his passion is to create pathways for the diaspora to professionalise, engage and work interculturally, including building lasting partnerships and relationships between Australia and South Asia and Australia and international disapora.
Dr Priya Srinivasan a dancer, curator and writer who combines theory and practice, Her performances and research prioritize decolonization making visible minority women’s histories. Originally from Melbourne, Priya was trained in the classical and contemporary Indian and Asian arts and has performed extensively in Australia, USA, Europe, China and India in major festivals, theatres, museums and in politically charged public spaces. Her work brings together live bodily performance with visual art, interactive multimedia and digital technology. She has developed the experimental form of “talking dance,” to decolonize based in Indian classical music and dance to rethink the divides between so called contemporary and traditional, community and “high art” practices and worked interculturally with diverse artists across the globe prioritizing First Nations artists. The development of “Serpent Dreaming Women,” an intercultural feminist collaboration speaking to climate change through art between Gunditjmara, Yuin, Indian Australian and Indian artists was supported by DFAT, Australia India Council and Multicultural Arts Victoria in 2017. This led to the feminist multi disciplinary collaboration of “Churning Waters” in 2018 bringing Larrakia, Yolgnu cultural leaders and artists into this exchange which was subsequently selected to represent Australia and tour India for Australia Festival in India in 2019 was supported by the Australian High Commission in India, DFAT and Creative Victoria.
Vidya Rajan is an award-winning writer, comic, and performancemaker mainly working across theatre and television. She has trained and performed extensively in improvisation and sketch in Australia and the United States. She has recently worked with Metroarts, The Blue Room Theatre, Melbourne Festival Director’s Lab, ABC Comedy, Audible, Theatreworks and is a 2018 recipient of Screen Australia’s Developing the Developer initiative. She is a current writer in residence at the Malthouse Theatre making new work. You can follow her at vidyasrajan.com or on twitter.com/vidyarrrr
Nithya Iyer is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher of South Indian Tamil-descent. Her recent solo performance Vengayam Indian Tamil-descent. Her recent solo performance Vengayam was featured at the Critical Animal’s festival, Newcastle and Melbourne’s Bus Projects. As a founding member of the L&NDLESS collective she has also presented work at HillsceneLIVE, Mapping Melbourne and the Queensland Poetry Festival. Nithya was trained for 12 years at the Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Indian Dance. Currently, she is completing a Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice at the Melbourne Institute for Experiential and Creative Art Therapy.