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‘Confluence: Festival of India’: India and Australia come together for First of its kind Indian music and dance festival in Sydney

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


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

  • Antara

    Feels amazing to see Indian culture getting promoted and celebrated worldwide!

  • Manthra koliyer

    This will help in getting the world together and making it a better place.

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Indian Artists Demand Internet Giants to Change Stance on Nudity

Its policy team, along with artists, art educators, museum curators, activists as well as Facebook employees, has decided to examine how to better serve artists, including considering a new approach to nudity guidelines

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FILE - Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

By Radhika Parashar

As artists across the world take to streets against the social networking platforms’ unfair policies towards art-based nudity, the Indian community of artists has come out in their support, detailing their own experiences and demanding the digital platforms to have a clear differentiation between vulgarity and art.

In a protest this month, nearly 100 people stripped naked holding pictures of nipples in their hands in front of Facebook’s New York headquarters, demanding allowance to showcase artistic nudity on the popular apps. The campaign was outlandishly titled #WeTheNipple.

Another protest in June saw international porn artists gather outside Instagram’s Silicon Valley headquarters, describing the nudity-censorship rules of Facebook and its family of apps “vague, inconsistent and threatening to their livelihood”.

The move has been hailed by international photographers, painters, models and screen artists from around the world. including in India.

“I obviously understand that Facebook and Instagram want to avoid ‘vulgar’ content on their platforms, but scrapping off art-based nudity is affects artists very seriously,” fashion photographer Soumya Iyer told IANS.

“Just like everyone else, we also want to showcase our work and build ourselves our own brand on Facebook and Instagram because of their global reach and popularity but it’s sad that fine-art is neither accepted nor respected,” said Rohan Tulpule, a fine art photographer who has faced consequences of ‘unfair’ censorship rules against his work multiple times.

Recollecting her own experiences on suffering damages, Iyer said: “My series called ‘gender of beauty’ was taken down because of the display of nipples. Instagram is such a huge platform and artists can really make use of its power of engagement! I don’t understand why the display of a woman’s nipple has become a matter of shame”.

Known for his bold photo-series like “Life Through Holes” and “The Plus Size Of Life,” Tulpule added: “Hashtags help us increase our reach but if we use hashtags like #fineart and #nudephotograph, our post comes into notice and gets deleted under ‘policy violation’. We get restricted from all activities on the platforms. The platforms have to understand that all nudity is not vulgarity”.

FILE – The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

According to conceptual performance artist Inder Salim, “nothing is more scary when imaginary uniform sets of rules are imposed on all to suppress all those atavistic tendencies in us.”

As part of its community guidelines, Facebook-owned Instagram says “for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity” on their platform — including “photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples.”

However, the platform fails to elaborate the exact extent of “some photos” of female nipples it discourages on its app.

Last week, Facebook was slammed for banning Grammy-nominated British rock band Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album “Houses of the Holy” cover that features nude children. Later, admitting that the image was “culturally significant”, Facebook restored the image.

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According to actor-model Milind Soman, who stirred major controversies after he stripped naked for a photo-shoot way back in 1995, accepted that tough social media policies that lack distinction between artistic and vulgar nudity is not favourable for artists in this digital era.

“It’s their platform, their policies and their call. What is artistic and what is vulgar on their platform is up to them to decide because after all, it is their business to be profitable (first),” Soman told IANS.

The global demonstrations have convinced Facebook to re-think its stance on artistic nudity.

Its policy team, along with artists, art educators, museum curators, activists as well as Facebook employees, has decided to examine how to better serve artists, including considering a new approach to nudity guidelines. (IANS)