World Music Institute Announces Line-Ups For AFRICA NOW and DANCING THE GODS and Adds HAVANA NAGILA

The World Music Institute is thrilled to present, along with the Apollo Theater, the second edition of Africa Now! -a weekend festival with a focus on today's African music scene, featuring artists who draw upon their roots for inspiration, and transplant them into the global music landscape.

The artists featured in this year's festival all hail from West Africa-but each brings a radically different sound, experience and energy to the stage. The centerpiece event, a blow-out concert on the Mainstage of Harlem's legendary theater, will showcase Senegalese griot trio Les Fréres Guissé, the roots-reggae/Afrobeat collectiveSierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and a dynamo diva from Mali, Fatoumata Diawara.

Additional events include family shows, café performances, and artist panel discussions. Visit for artist bios and more details.

World Music Institute announces the anticipated line-up for the Dancing the Gods weekend festival, an important annual event that showcases the best in classical Indian dance, a vibrant art form that has seen a recent surge in popularity in New York City.

This year WMI presents two intriguing double bills that showcase different styles of Indian dance (Odissi, Kathak and Bharatanatyam): Rahul Acharya and Vidhya Subramanian, followed by Shambhavi Dandekar and Janaki Rangarajan.

These stunning artists are masters of their form and bring a unique and contemporary artistry to the forefront. Each show will be surrounded by special events to further engage the audience, such as pre-performance lec-dems by dancer/storyteller Rajika Puri, hands-on workshops, and a post-show 'Chat & Chai' with the artists. As Karen Sander, WMI's Artistic & Executive Director says: "We give you a hand-picked smorgasbord of some of the best Indian dance today."

This double bill features Rahul Acharya, who brings a chiseled masculinity to the quintessentially feminine Odissi, and Vidhya Subramanian, a bold interpreter of the classically paradigmatic Bharatanatyam. Odissi speaks of love and union with the divine, and Acharya is treasured for both his subtle mastery over musical phrasing and for his sublime display of emotions. Lithe and agile, he moves with breathtaking ease into the shapes of temple sculptures-even taking the seemingly impossible poses associated with Shiva. He hails from a family of "rajagurus" of the Puri temple, and brings to his work a deep understanding of the spiritual texts and their message, becoming entirely "one" with the dances he performs.

Compared to Odissi's sinuous movements and sensual curves, Bharatanatyam's angular nature and striking ­athleticism become clear-particularly at the service of Subramanian. Known for her modern themes and strong choreography, she pulls audiences in with her dignity, grace and inner fire. Subramanian also innovates, subtly, within the tradition: coining new steps and gestures, and imposing a logical flow to her abhinaya. An intelligent, articulate and moving performer, she employs her outstanding interpretive and dramatic skills to make the emotions of the heroine palpably present on stage.

The poised, flowing Kathak from Northern India and the fire-like Bharatanatyam from the South are juxtaposed in this double bill. The two styles stand in opposition, quite literally, with Kathak's upright, straight-legged stances versus Bharatanatyam's seated or bent knee postures; Kathak's emphasis on footwork, rhythmic accuracy and spins compared to Bharatanatyam's focus on mudras and angular poses. Bringing these differences to life are Shambhavi Dandekar, daughter and disciple of the renowned Kathak guru Maneesha Sathe, and Janaki Rangarajan, who stands at the forefront of the new generation of Bharatanatyam dancers.

Dandekar is a vivacious dancer, whose hallmark turns "both briskly exciting and exacting, [are] a wonder..." (The New York Times). But it is her communicative ease, both when she recites the alliterative poetry which accompanies her 'gats' and when she lights up the dynamic flow of her rhythms, which captivates the ear as well as the eye. A "spellbinder" according to The New York Times, Rangarajan explores her creativity without compromising on the classicism of her dance form. She adds flourishes- the unexpected flip of a foot, or sway of a hip, in the inimitable manner of her first guru, Padma Subramaniam. She is a joy to watch move, and a testament to the fact that Indian dance, for all its pride in its antiquity, is a vibrant, living art.



Sunday, March 23, 2014, 5:00pm The Town Hall
123 W 43rd St.
Presented by The Town Hall in association with World Music Institute
as part of the Newish Jewish Music Festival

$40-$50 Public • $35-$45 WMI Friends

Havana Nagila is a joyful celebration of New York's Latin and Jewish musical heritages. Jewish music icons, The Klezmatics, and Latin pianist, composer and bandleader, Arturo O'Farrill, have made careers dynamically updating traditional Yiddish and Afro-Cuban music for contemporary listeners, each winning Grammy awards for their groundbreaking work. This spring, they team up with the acclaimed, sultry Cuban songstress Xiomara Laugart (of the band Yerba Buena) to craft an unforgettable evening - an All-Star Cuban Jewish music jam that is not to be missed.

Tickets for all World Music Institute events are available for purchase online, by calling (212) 545-7536, or in person at the WMI Box Office at 101 Lafayette Street, #801. Student and group discounts are available, as are VIP tickets for select events.

Discounts are also available for WMI Friends with memberships starting at $70. WMI Friends enjoy priority seating throughout the season.

Visit for more information.

World Music Institute is a not-for-profit concert presenting organization founded in 1985 by Robert and Helene Browning and dedicated to the presentation of the finest in traditional and contemporary music and dance from around the world.

WMI encourages cultural exchange between nations and ethnic groups and collaborates with community organizations and academic institutions in fostering greater understanding of the world's cultural traditions. WMI works extensively with community groups and organizations including Indian, Iranian, Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Hungarian, Irish, and Central Asian. This has enabled it to be at the forefront of planning and presenting the finest ensembles from these countries.

WMI presents a full season of concerts each year in New York City, and arranges national tours by visiting musicians from abroad, as well as US-based artists. WMI's accomplishments and expertise in its field are recognized by major institutions throughout the US and internationally.

WMI has brought many musical, dance and ritual traditions to the New York stage for the first time, including Laotian sung poetry, folk music of Khorason and Bushehr (Iran), songs of the Yemenite Jews, Bardic divas of Central Asia, trance ceremonies from Morocco, music from Madagascar, and Theyyams (masked dances) of Kerala, South India. Many artists have been given their U.S. or New York debuts by WMI.

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From This Author Kaitlin Milligan

Kaitlin Milligan is from Fort Lauderdale, FL, but is currently a Senior studying Telecommunications Production with a Minor in English at The University of Florida. (read more...)

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