Summer Live - Celebrating Vancouver's 125th Birthday!

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It’s been a while since I’ve written!!! But there’s good reason for that; we at South Asian Arts have been busy bees for the past month, with wedding season in full force (real ones, not play ones!), our involvement with Vancouver’s 125th birthday festival last week at Stanley Park, and we’ve even been in the drawing room, planning to bring some exciting new classes to register for this fall at the Studio. But I’m getting ahead of myself! One thing at a time…

Firstly, as I mentioned, wedding season is in full swing here in Vancouver! My own sister’s wedding was just a few weeks ago, and I can testify that our household was the epitome of a big fat chaotic Indian wedding that Bollywood Wedding so wittily depicted two years ago! There were countless aunties, uncles, cousins, puris, samosas and sweets in every corner of the house, and the only quiet hours were between 1 AM and 7:30 AM. At 7:30, my relatives would promptly arrive to begin work for the various ceremonies, and my cousins would run upstairs to boisterously drag me out of bed. Such a wonderful wake-up call…

Despite the chaos (but perhaps because of it too) the wedding was a great success; some Vancouver rain, getting stuck in traffic on the way to the temples, a few jokes cracked by the Hindu priest and thousands upon thousands of camera clicks later, the bride and groom were married! If you get a chance to go for an Indian wedding, I would highly recommend it; it is quite good entertainment ;)

I was back to work a couple weeks after the wedding was over. (It sounds like a long time to take off for a wedding, but believe me, it is necessary!) And the next exciting thing put on my plate was South Asian Arts’ short production of Bollywood Birthday, a sort of “deleted scene”, if you will, from the original full-length production of Bollywood Wedding. Scheduled as an event for Summer Live, Vancouver’s 125 birthday celebration weekend, the show attracted what seemed like over 500 people to each performance! To tell you honestly, I was expecting maybe around 100 spectators to watch our show. But I should have known, when the dhol drummers began to play and the ribbon dancers began dancing, people from all over the festival grounds – which was at Brockton Point in Stanley Park – began to throng towards our colourful and celebratory show. All three shows, one per day of the festival weekend, had hundreds of spectators! The volunteers and I had problems manouvering all the props to and from the scenes as the crowds were much larger than anticipated, but the volunteers from Summer Live were extremely helpful and aided in controlling the crowds as they got more and more excited with each of the dance numbers! And how could one not find themselves enthralled by the show? With party-starting beats and music, a decorated tree, over a dozen dancers, some beautiful weather, the spectacular setting, and some good cheesy Bollywood songs and dances, the show was bound to be a pleaser.

Some Vancouver-centric lines executed by actors Munish Sharma and Almeera Jiwa also had the audience chuckling, as fun was poked at Surrey as being the place to find your Indian bridal party if you are without one, and CBC’s Ian Hanomansing was turned into the dream man who was to remain only a dream for the bride-to-be Sunayna! Summer Live also saw South Asian Arts’ friends En Karma take to the stage to give a good, bhangra dance party with the help of some of Bollywood Birthday’s dancers.

There were some brilliant other artists playing all weekend too, with performances by Indian violinist L Subramaniam, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and local acts such as The Belle Game, We Are The City, Aidan Knight, and the gruff-yet-soulful Dan Mangan, who had a 15-piece behind him as the closing act of the festival. With the additional strings, horns and a double bass, the set was wholesome and charming. It was a fantastic show.

Finally last week, we continued with our plotting and scheming of plans for the Studio that will commence come September. As South Asian Arts continues to be a hub for artists – professional and amateur alike – we will be starting to offer dance classes to be taught by artists who have pure passion and talent in their art form. Keep your eyes and ears open in August to learn more about the exciting people we’ll be working with!

As for me, I’ll be leaving on tour tomorrow with my band 41st and Home, as we take our new CD release across Canada, hitting up cities between here and Winnipeg. I’ll try to continue blogging as much as I can! I’ve done the drive before, but this time will be a little different; my iPod is still filled with Indian wedding music from my sister’s wedding, so I’ll get to travel across the country to the soundtrack of Bollywood! I’ll let you know what I come across!



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