DHOL & BOLLYWOOD FESTIVAL 2017

It was a pleasant surprise when Liitha buzzed me to check if I was free the weekend after the first day of Hari Raya Puasa.

“The Dhol and Bollywood festival is on that weekend,” she said. “Would you be free to attend?”

The organiser of the World Bachata Festival, as part of her ongoing contribution to the dance community, had organised yet another festival, this time the Dhol & Bollywood Festival, which is not just about Bollywood dance, but also showcases other important artistic parts of the Bollywood community, which includes the playing of the dhol.

Unfortunately… I wasn’t. I was already double booked for two dinners on Saturday night, 1 July 2017, and I had numerous errands to complete on Sunday. However, I cleared my schedule to make sure I was able to attend on Sunday night.

What was the Dhol & Bollywood Festival about?

For more information, visit their website at http://dholbollywood.com.

In its inaugural year, the festival spanned two nights and one day only. There were performances on both Saturday and Sunday nights, and workshops filled the day on Sunday from 8 to 5pm.

I heard that the performances on Saturday night were spectacular, so I was really looking forward to watching the show on Sunday night.

More information about the Dhol & Bollywood Festival
Dhols for sale outside the auditorium
Chooi Ling and I here to enjoy the show!

PERFORMANCE NIGHT ON SUNDAY, 2 JULY 2017

The show was supposed to start at 8:30pm, but due to technical delays it started at 9pm.

Generally, Sunday night saw multiple performances by the same groups – Master Suki and the Dhol Blasters as well as TDM Group who played the dhol; Josh Productions from Malaysia, who performed dance routines; and Kalnish who danced both solo and with a team of other talented girls. They also had two performances put up by participants of the bootcamp, who had less than 2 hours of practice – one team playing the dhol, and another doing the Bollywood dance. There was even a segment of beatboxers!

Opening performance for Sunday night. The dhol players and dancers burst into the auditorium from the main doors
The performers at the front of the auditorium, dancing and playing in front of the audience
Beatboxers Avinish, Alvin and Ezekiel filling the air with sounds from their mouths. And yes, they were good!

Truth be told, I’ve never learnt Bollywood dance before… even at the gym, although it looked really interesting and challenging. And watching the performers tonight… well, I was thoroughly impressed. Bollywood dancing requires a lot of energy and rhythm to look good, and a lot of energy and stamina to keep going. And have I said how much energy they need?

The dance routines were energetic, and were quite long – at least 5 minutes! Yet the dancers had the same amount of energy all the way through, finishing at the same high level they started with. The moves involved a lot of hopping and body isolations, so they need a lot of energy and dance technique.

Josh Productions gracing the stage
Kalnish Schubert performing an expressive solo
Josh Productions performing another entertaining piece
Josh Productions putting up yet another energetic piece
Kalnish performing with three other talented dancers
Bollywood dance bootcamp participants, led by Lavesh from USA, performing after only 2 hours of practice

As for the dhol performances… well, the rhythm and synchronicity were amazing! The drummers were all in sync when performing in a quartet, and whenever any of them had a solo, they rocked the stage.

Malaysian dhol players, TDM Group playing the dhol with amazing synchronicity
Participants of the dhol bootcamp, led by Master Suki, performing in front of the audience after only 2 hours of learning and practising

The lovely emcee, Vithyaa, even called up the three youngest participants of the festival forward for a brief interview, while we were waiting for international superstars Master Suki and the Dhol Blasters to set up for the finale. The youngest was only 8 years old, and the other two who were 12 and 15 years old had already been winning awards in dhol competitions.

Vithyaa interviewing the three young participants of the festival
Master Suki and the Dhol Blasters jamming on stage, while the festival participants slowly gathered to the front to dance to the rhythm
Everyone – dhol players and dancers alike – having massive fun to end the night!

The event, although only in its first year, was a resounding success, featuring international superstars within this arena, and showcased so many local talents.

Congratulations to the organising team, and kudos to all the performers!

Thank you once again to the beautiful and tireless Liitha, the brains behind the event, for organising such an amazing festival. And of course, for inviting me to witness such a spectacular show!

Me with the melodious voice who introduced the performers onstage, emcee Vithyaa
Me with the brilliant brains behind the festival, Liitha
Zyen Hoo

Zyen is a Physics, Chemistry and Math teacher with many interests, including running and dancing. She also enjoys indulging in vanity projects such as her personal blog, and is a self-proclaimed reviewer. She is also notoriously slow in updating her blog due to her constant search for the next adrenaline rush (on top of her heavy workload at school and her freelancing projects), so she asks for your forgiveness and understanding of her very delayed updates.

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