The Mehfil Project was a series of Indian classical music and dance events held at the Peepul Centre. By collaborating with some of the more prominent Indian dance and music schools in Leicester, the event hoped to bring people together to celebrate and appreciate the intricate dance forms and the powerful music originating from the Indian continent.
The first event started in August 2018 with a discourse in rasa – the power of expression in dance this was followed by a second event exploring Taal – the beat of Indian classical music and dance, then an event in November showcasing kathak and live music for Musical Movements. There was another event in January exploring Bharatnatyam and Beyond, finally culminating to the production Celebrating the Future on 1 February 2019.
Celebrating the Future was split into three parts. The first part was performed by sitar player Roopa Panesar. She is an amazing artist and the way she played the sitar was so good. Not sure I liked the name of one of the songs – A woman’s emotion but I guess its just a name. Although once that idea has been put inot your head, it’s hard not to wonder what emotions they are meant to represent. This piece started off playful, then got really fast and exciting – interpret that as you will. There were two other pieces that she played. One was really fast and exciting and the other was mellow and soothing. The good thing about fast music is the accuracy of it and how long she can carry on playing it for – the longer, and faster and precise, the better and more exciting. You just sit there holding your breath, waiting to see what will happen.
After a short break, the second item came on. This was Akash Odedra. He did a traditional kathak dance… well, his version of traditional. His jumping and spinning is fascinating and mesmerising. He is a true professional. His jumps are as light as a feather, his spinning was super fast as he whizzed across the stage. In addition, watching his feet and his expression was also fascinating to watch and if there was nothing else except that, it would be enough. But his whole stage presence is amazing to watch.
The third and final item was an exciting new piece created by young new musicians and dancers. It was the premiere of an item called Confluence. The dancers were Bharatnatyam dancer Anaya Bolar and Kathak dancer, Shyam Dutta. The musicians were Kaviraj Singh on Santoor – a hundred stringed instrument, Gurdain Rayatt on the tabla usually for the kathak dancer and Abhi Saha on the mridangam for the Bharatnatyam dancer.
It was a beautiful piece of dancing. The dancers and musicians were all really good. They were precise and fast and genuinely very good. Unfortunately, this was also the piece that my younger daughter wanted to ask me loads of questions about the dance and the dancers and so as much as I tried to keep her quiet, I did miss a lot of the storyline of this piece. At one point, the dancers went backstage while the musicians took over and showcased their talent. However, all my six-year-old wanted to know was when were they going to come back. Luckily, no one else seemed to notice.
The whole show was really so very good and I’m so glad I managed to go to this show. I do truly regret not going to the earlier ones. I hope there are more shows like this and I’m so pleased that there are opportunities like this available, right here in this city, for the next generation, including my daughters, to go and watch.