Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance & Music returns, running from September 8th till October 19th
It’s September, which means it’s time once again for the city’s best-known cultural extravaganza, the 18th annual Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music, to take over the stage at the Thailand Cultural Centre (14 Thiam Ruam Mit Rd). This year culture vultures have a mega-buffet of events to choose from, including ballet, opera, jazz, symphony, Spanish flamenco, Indian dance, and even Chinese acrobatics.
The festival opens in grand style with a pair of performances direct from Russia. The roster features two highly popular ballets, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, and both are being performed by a 90-strong troupe from the famed Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet, complete with spectacular stage sets and live orchestra. Swan Lake will be performed on September 8th and 9th, while the single performance of Giselle will take place on September 11th.
The Russian influence continues with Moscow’s dynamic Helikon Opera Theatre, who will perform two of their best-known dramas—Verdi’s powerful Un Ballo In Maschera (A Masked Ball) on September 18th, and Bizet’s unforgettable Carmen on September 20th. Both operas will include subtitles in Thai and English.
The Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève is one of the premier dance groups from Switzerland, and they will be in town on September 24th to perform the classic Wagner drama Tristan and Isolde. And one of the most exciting things about this performance is the fact that the lead is played by award-winning Swiss-Thai ballerina Sarawanee Tanatanit. The troupe will also appear on the 26th of September to perform Carl Orff’s Camina Burana. Thailand’s Swiss Ambassador HE Ivo Sieber raves over the group’s “sublime and dynamic virtuosity”, but ballet fans already know this is a must-see event.
As for great classical music groups gracing the stage, the world-famous Israel Camerata Orchestra will appear on September 22nd. Still led by their legendary founder-conductor Avner Biron, the group is noted for its huge repertoire, and will play everything from Bartok, to Haydn and Schubert.
Later in the month a different set of rhythms comes to town, as Europe’s Scalatheater brings Bangkok their Hollywood Sound of Cinema show. Eight magnificent singers, who have brought audiences to their feet around the world, will resurrect the best of Hollywood songs live on stage. Finally, in a must-attend event, for the family, the China National Acrobatic Troupe returns to wow audiences young and old. According to Chinese Cultural Attaché Chen Jiang, this acrobatic troupe is one of the oldest and best-known groups in China, and they have performed in nearly 124 nations across the globe. He’s excited by the dynamic new acts they’ll be performing this year, which he’s sure will dazzle and delight Thai audiences.
NOTE: In next month’s issue we’ll be highlighting the festival events that are set to take place in October.
Interview with Aditi Mangaldas
On September 14th don’t miss Unchartered Seas, a magnificent exposition of the sizzling Kathak dance form, performed by globally renowned Indian dancer Aditi Mangaldas. The phenomenal twists and turns of this dance form have been masterfully choreographed by the dancer into a scintillating ballet that shows, according to Indian Ambassador HE Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi, “The spirit of innovation, while respecting the dance form’s rich heritage and traditions.”
Does the title ‘Uncharted Seas’ exemplify your own philosophy?
It does reflect my philosophy of always wanting to discover new things and trying to find a path through the unknown.
Is this production a total celebration of the Kathak dance form?
Yes, the production traverses through the entire repertoire of classical Kathak.
What makes Kathak different from other Indian dance forms?
Kathak is unique because it combines Hindu and Muslim traditions. It is open-ended, and therefore more conducive for innovation.
Why is Kathak often compared to the flamenco dance form?
It’s generally believed that Kathak is the parent of flamenco. That’s because there was a time when there was a lot of trade and exchange between the gypsies of North India and Spain.
Do you enjoy doing both classical and contemporary Kathak dance?
Yes, I enjoy both. Basically I love to dance, and don’t want to restrict myself, in body, mind, and heart.
How special is this festival to you?
It’s an honour and pleasure to be a part of this festival, where we are representing an ancient Indian classical dance form that is still relevant today.