Flushing Town Hall Presents 4th Annual Diwali Festival—Kathak, Bhangra & Beyond

On Saturday, November 10, Flushing Town Hall will celebrate the Festival of Lights with its fourth annual Diwali Festival, this time as a Diwali Dance Party, featuring DJ Rekha and Abha Roy in a mash-up of Bhangra and Kathak music and dance styles, with cooking workshops, dance lessons, traditional foods, and family-friendly activities such as a jewelry workshop and henna painting. The event will provide a rare opportunity to see DJ Rekha perform in New York City.

“Diwali is a festive time of gift-giving, charity and sharing in feasts with loved ones,” said Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director of Flushing Town Hall. “We are excited to continue this tradition at Flushing Town Hall and to provide an experience that fills all senses: musical performances, classical dance, traditional food, henna painting, fashion and much more.”

Historic Flushing Town Hall (circa 1862) features year-round arts and cultural programming from all over the globe as a way to bring people together. Celebrating and educating the global communities of Queens and New York City, their tagline is: Global Arts for a Global Community. Flushing Town Hall is a member of New York City’s prestigious Cultural Institutions Group, and a Smithsonian Affiliate. They support local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance their efforts.

The Diwali Festival is supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio; The National Endowment of the Arts; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Con Edison; The New York Community Bank Foundation; and Affinity Health Plan.

The three-hour celebration features DJ Rekha, who returns to the stage for a Bhangra dance party, and master Indian dancer Abha B. Royand the Srijan Dance Center, who will present “Parvati-Putra (Parvati’s Child),” a dance drama re-telling of the story of the birth of Ganesha from Parvati’s (his mother) point of view.  Audiences will recognize Ganesha is the Hindu deity with the elephant head; and children will be invited to make a Ganesha mask before the performance.  The role of Ganesha will be performed by a 7th grader from Queens, Puja Singh.  Prior to the performance, each artist will introduce you to her form and invite you to learn traditional Kathak dance moves and bhangra folk dances mixed with hip-hop. Then hit the dance floor!

Join us for henna painting, rangoli (decorative design) workshops, a dance workshop, and cooking workshops led by Nupur Arora, owner of Queens Curry Kitchen.Delicious Indian foods and handmade Indian jewelry also will be for sale during the lively event.

The event runs from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. Flushing, Queens. Tickets—$20/$15 Members/$10 Students & Children—are available at www.flushingtownhall.org.

Additionally, Flushing Town Hall will hold two school shows for grades four to eight on Friday, October 27th at 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM. To make reservations, call (718) 463-7700 ext. 224 or email education@flushingtownhall.org.

Diwali, or Deepavali, comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “row of lights.” It is a day of solidarity, where the soft light of diyas – or oil-wick candles – illuminate streets and homes, banishing the darkness of ignorance and suffering. Diwali began as a part of an ancient harvest festival, which celebrated the fertility of the earth and prosperity of the new harvest. Though Diwali has taken on a significant meaning in Hinduism, in India, it is still celebrated by all groups regardless of religious affiliation as a time of renewal and growth.

Participants at the event include:

  • Abha Royhas blazed a trail of her own in the sphere of Kathak, a classic northern Indian dance form. Abha, who is a dance Teaching Artist at Flushing Town Hall, started her career as a classical dancer in 1984, completing her diploma in Kathak under the guidance of late great Guru Kundan Lal Gangani. She attained professional precision under the training of Pt. Durgalal when she completed her specialization in Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. She has served on the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, dancing Kathak around the world as commissioned representative of Indian dance.  Abha has conducted workshops and classes for New York City schools, universities, libraries and museums since 1992 and is the founding director of Srijan Dance Center.
  • DJ Rekhais a London-born, Flushing-raised musician, DJ, producer, curator and activist. She has been credited with pioneering Bhangra music in North America. Bhangra a dance and genre of music originates from Punjab a region divided by Indian and Pakistan. Basement Bhangra NYCs longest continuous monthly club night ran from 1997-2017. DJ Rekha has performed at the Obama White House and internationally.
  • Sarika Persaudis a senior student of Abha Bhatnagar Roy. She has been learning kathak for 13 years. Sarika had her rangmanch pravesh, or professional debut, in October 2014. She is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical-School Child Psychology program at Pace University.
  • Amanjeet Kaurhas been learning classical Indian dance, Kathak, under the guidance of her teacher Abha Bhatnagar Roy, for 11 years. Since beginning at the age of 11, she has advanced in ability learning Kathak and is now on her way to mastering the intricate footwork, technical compositions, and contemporary dance pieces involved in. She has performed both classical and fusion pieces, gained experience in folk dance, has collaborated with live musicians, and performed thumris, tokras, taranas, tihais, and gatas.
  • Alisha Desaiis a professional dancer, choreographer, actor/singer, visual artist and educator. She has a passion and expertise in many Indian dance styles; Bollywood, Bharatantyam, Semi-Classical, Bhangra, etc. and has been a core member of Ajna Dance company since it formed in 2011. A graduate from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in Performing Arts, Alisha has a background in theater, film, and vocal performance, in addition to dance. Alisha has extensive teaching experience. In addition to teaching with Ajna she has taught with Unity Stage Theater Company, ArtsACTION, Fit4Life Kids, Aatma Performing Arts and the Children’s Theater Company.
  • Nupur Arora,owner of Queens Curry Kitchen.Fashion designer-turned chef, Nupur started Queens Curry Kitchen as a way to explore her creative endeavors with food and a diverse palette. What started as a hobby soon became hugely popular amongst Indian students of a prestigious New York university who loved her home style food that reminded them of food made by their moms. Today Chef Arora is the author of a book “The Vegan Indian Home” with many others in the works, but continues to share her flavors with her food through catering and events, and weekly meal delivery service, all from her Queens Curry Kitchen.

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available.

Once again, this season, Flushing Town Hall is opening its doors to teenagers – for free. Under the “Teen Access Program,” all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.

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