"Unity Through Diversity" offers a big look at India's music and dancing

If anything, the show “Unity Through Diversity” will be a triumph of backstage logistics.

The program of Western and Eastern music and dance staged by the Pembroke Pines-based Association of Performing Arts of India features a large cast, according to the chairman of the board, Dr. Deenbandhu Chokshi.

“I think the total number of musical artists, singers, dancers and others number [58], or something like that,” he says of the event that will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22 at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. “We were worried that the show would be too long. We had to give everyone a strict time. They asked for more time and we had to put the foot down.”

The performance will last 2 1/2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

“But we wanted to show the diversity. There’s a lot of diversity of the music, and there’s a lot of diversity in the dance. And there’s diversity in the national origin of the people involved. Even in the dance, there are a lot of variations. And there are a lot of children and mature adults, so there is diversity in the age of the participants.”

The music will range from Bach to Indian music, which Dr. Chokshi explains “is very old. This is music from 5,000 years ago.”

In addition to performances by the South Florida Youth Symphony, the Suzuki Music Academy and professor Clarence Brooks from Florida Atlantic University, the show will include presentations from Indian dance teachers and their students.

“We wanted to make sure that all the choreographers were from the local region,” says Prashant Shah, artistic director of the show. “To see all of this on one platform in one evening, that is something. That is something I see very rarely. I’m very proud of this whole evening.”

Shah is a senior disciple of Padma Bhushan Kumudini Lakhia, who is a legend of the Kathak dance world residing in Ahmedabad, India. Based in New York, Shah made long phone calls and frequent trips to South Florida over the past six months, putting “Unity Through Diversity” together between his own performances as a soloist. He thinks even people who are not familiar with classical Indian dance will enjoy the show.

“Some people are just curious about the dance form, or maybe they are dancers. Some people might come and smell the forms rather than know what the form is all about,” he says. “I say smell, because I don’t know how to say it. You just get a [whiff] of it, like when you go to a city and you go to the market and smell the culture with food and things. There is a booklet given out with a synopsis of the performances.”

There will also be a tribute to Dr. Daniel Lewis, the founding dean of dance at the New World School of the Arts. “He has contributed a lot to the world of dance,” Dr. Chokshi says. “He has been a friend of ours for a long time … and we wanted to recognize him.”

The first part of the show will spotlight a choir. “This kind of chorale composition … was unknown until the choir director started to put it down in writing,” Chokshi explains. “It was all improvisational. It is all in Sanskrit, a language that hardly anyone understands today. This kind of mantra was handed down from thousands of years ago. These people had tremendous knowledge, like they had come from other planets. I hope people come in time because it is absolutely outstanding.”

IF YOU GO

When: 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 22

Where: Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive

Cost: $15-$39 ($2 off for seniors and students with current ID)

Contact: 954-344-5990 or APAIart.com.







Pictures: Floatopia Miami 2014