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Sydney, Sept 20, 2016: The First of its kind Indian music and dance festival ‘Confluence: Festival of India’, is an initiative of Government of India and is supported by its Australian counterpart. The 12-week long event kick started in the iconic Sydney Opera House on September 18 as the Indian and Australian artists came together to perform.

The inaugural concert took place with performances by drummers from the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy, Odissi, Kathak, and Bharatanatyam dancers, reported PTI. Among many others, Australian aboriginal dancers too performed in the two-hour-long event on September 18 where they shared the stage with the Pung Cholom dancers from Manipur in India.

It wasn’t all easy. For the Pung Cholom dancer, Ngangbam Sunil Singh, the challenge was to adapt to a very different kind of form.

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Several shows by Indian artists- The Kalakshetra Foundation, Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel Project, the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust, the Raghu Dixit Project, will tour seven Australian cities as part of the cultural show.

“We had two days to figure out how to blend our form with the aboriginal dancers. Both our groups have very different rhythms. So it was a challenge, but we took some parts of their dance and some of ours and combined them,” said Mr. Singh to PTI.

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Binkin Ngugi, who played the didgeridoo with the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers group, said, though it was the first time that they collaborated with Indian folk and classical artists, it came naturally. “There are some similarities in the music and in the meaning of songs,” he added.

The manager of the aboriginal dance group, Eddie Ruskin, added that indigenous Australians and Indians shared a mutual respect for each other’s cultures. “For instance, we have a common respect for our elders,” he said.

While the festival, which is touring seven Australian cities, began last month, the gala at the Opera House was the showcase for both Indian and Australian authorities.

Union Culture Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma, who attended the show, said at a reception earlier in the evening that it was a “proud moment for both India and Australia” that the Festival of India, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2014, had been successful.

“It’s high time that we celebrate India and Australia’s relations in a big way,” said Dr. Sharma, before adding that Indians should be “proud to have a Prime Minister like Mr. Modi”.

At the Opera House, the audience was in a celebratory mood, with people singing along to the Raghu Dixit Project, which closed the show.

Indian High Commissioner to Australia Navdeep Suri said to The Hindu that the main aim of the festival was to attract the mainstream arts-loving community, not just the Indian diaspora.

“We looked for premium venues like the Sydney Opera House to showcase premium acts. The festival has had a very successful week,” he said.

-prepared by Arya Sharan of NewsGram from various agencies. Twitter: @NoOffense9


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