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Flushing Town Hall to host second annual Holi Dance Concert Apr. 6

Mar. 25, 2024 By Athena Dawson

Flushing Town Hall invites Queens residents to celebrate the spirit of spring during their second annual Holi Dance Concert on Saturday, Apr. 6.  The event will have arts and crafts, an array of dance performances and food catered by Queens Curry Kitchen.

“This is a celebration of togetherness, spring, and good over evil,” said Abha Roy, the event curator. Roy is originally from Rajasthan, India, and is excited to share Indian classical, folk and tribal dance with the local community.  

Roy says that the folk dances celebrate goodness and ward off evil, while bringing communities together. She added that the tribal dances will showcase a social and cultural aspect of certain Indian states to the audience members. “Folk and tribal and classical are different [dances], but we want to show what happens in India, the feeling of Holi. Through the dance styles they will know the story of Holi and how the different groups celebrate,” she said. 

 

Abha Roy, curator of the Holi Dance Concert. Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

Roy also serves as the artistic director of the Srijan Dance Center and a teaching artist at Flushing Town Hall. Members of the Sirijan Dance Center and the Anup Das Dance Academy (ADDA) will showcase their artistry and introduce the many forms of dance from India’s diverse states.

The program will begin with a colorful card making workshop at 12:30 p.m., where participants will create a design using carved wooden blocks  from India.  

Holi is traditionally a Hindu festival, but Roy says it is open to everyone. It is a time for families to come together and celebrate the passage of the winter months and the transition into spring. 

 “We want people to have an idea of what happens in this festival and how they can be a part of it,” she said.

The dance performances will be accompanied by Naren Budhakar,  a vocal artist and master of the Indian tabla drums, and Abhik Mukherjee, an Indian classical sitar player. Budhakar, 61, has always been drawn to music. He came from a family of musicians and grew up in one of the cultural capitals of India. By the age of eight, he began playing the tabla drums. “Whatever your hobby or passion is, you spend your life doing it. It’s no different with music,” he said.

Naren Budhkar plays the tabla. Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

Budhakar wants to highlight how the tabla has its own formal language. He compares it to sheet music, which can be written and recited.

“The way the syllables are put together, they can either be lyrical or staccato, with melodies that are open and resounding, and can be fast like drum rolls or stately,” he said. The tabla is a percussion instrument with a unique tone and resonance, Budhakar added. He said that as a vocalist, it is important to understand music from all aspects. “Of all the art forms, I believe singing is the highest art form, because your whole body becomes a part of the performance,” he said. 

Holi is a Hindu holiday predominantly celebrated in South Asia, dating back to the fourth century. However, celebrants throughout the world participate in their own versions of the colorful festivities. The festival spans over two days and the eve of the festival includes a bonfire ceremony called Holika that signifies the burning of evil spirits. Participants throw items into the flames to mark the first stage of the celebration. On the day of the festival, community members gather to throw bright powder and colorful paint at each other and into the air and dance amongst the festivities. Each of the main Holi colors: red, yellow, green and blue, have a symbolic significance.

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