Article by Maruthachelvi Kothandaraman for RVCF
KIFA or Kalaloka Institute of Fine Arts had its official Grand opening on July 30th, 2021 with the ribbon cutting by Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce team and Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation team.
Then followed the 2 days of cultural extravaganza. Like any Indian party, there were flowers, colours, aroma of spices, traditional games & attire, music and dance – to capture all these memories we had cameras and photo booths! It was nothing less than a grand Indian party but exponentially fun and grand. Anyone who entered couldn’t miss the beautiful photo booth and by its side the lovely line of traditional colorful Indian clothing by Sthri Couture. One was welcomed in the Indian way with strands of fragrant Indian jasmine. That took me back to childhood memories of adorning my hair with flowers every evening.
The first day opened with Prerna – “KIFA Student & Teacher Showcase “. All the young talents that are nurtured under the KIFA programs were busy flexing those skills. Following that we had a Diversity Circle, where artists from different parts of the world like Ibiyinka Alao, Lia Uribe and Megha Rao engaged the audience with their message of bringing the world together. RVCF President, Srividya Venkastasubramanya, announced the organization’s commitment to support at least one fully funded artistic collaboration between cultures.
We then had Tabla and Vocal Workshop where we had our KIFA experts Shiv Kotagal & Vijayashree Vittal teach new students who wanted to try out these new classes. We then had Story telling Time, where people sat together and shared stories of different cultures and the importance of being exposed to people from different backgrounds. While the hall was busy with various activities, one was suddenly surprised by the aroma of delicious food from the other side of the hall. It was our Indian Cooking class held by our local food fanatic Maruthachelvi. K. With all kinds of spices filling the air, students of all ages and backgrounds learnt some Indian delicacies and enjoyed a full platter later on. Our spices were sponsored by Desi Bazaar.
There was a short break with delicious food from Abby Sweets. To burn some calories after that, we had Viriiya – Dance by our instructor Megha P Rao & Viriiya - / Yoga by our instructor Nandhini Varadaraj. Following this we had Community Sapthaswara where our members performed and entertained the audience. To wrap up this awesome first day line of events we had the star light on a replay of our 2020 Master concert, Black and White. Our audience enjoyed this show with their dinner food boxes from Punjabi Kitchen.
The second day of celebration started with Violin, Theater and Kathak Workshop by Kartik Balachandran, Trike theatre and Radha Varadan respectively. This was followed by fun Indian Traditional Games where everyone, especially adults had an opportunity to relive their childhood. In a world of GTA and NFS, these much forgotten sensory ancient games were brought in to introduce to the next generation. Some of our traditional games like Paramapadham (Snakes & Ladders), Pallanguzhi (Mancala), and many other board games including chess, were introduced by our youth volunteers. Everyone was found to be laughing and enjoying their off screen gaming experience. After this fun hour , we had another replay on the big screen of our 2020 Professional Series performance – Ardhanaree, by Megha P. Rao and her student, Matangi Arun. Following this we had a House Concert - Tabla/Mridangam by Ashwin Mistry and Santhosh Ramaswamy respectively. As always, their live show had everyone tapping their foot. Ashwin and Santhosh spoke to the audience on the similarities of talams in the two styles of Indian Classical Music - carnatic and hindustani. What's a celebration without some dance. The next event was Natyam, our community dance showcase – where members got to perform their well rehearsed dance routines for the audience.
To wrap up the event, the final and last show was on the big screen - a replay of our 2020 Master Folk Concert, Yakshagana. Towards the end of the video, one got to see the behind-the-screen work of the artists, their make-up hours and heavy costume preparations was mind blowing. It was awe inspiring to watch how much effort went into the performance and how very little they are appreciated in comparison. If I had to perform in those costumes, forget about remembering/reciting my lines - I would for sure collapse in that heat with the heavy costume on. These artists deserve so much of our respect for their time and work. They are truly a blessing for Indian arts. We wrapped up the event with our dinner boxes from Spice Shuttle and greeted everyone and took leave for the day.
Thus the 2 days of extravaganza came to an end with a fulfilling experience to take home with us. This isn’t the end but just the beginning . We will be filling this space with more stories and more art forms and more guests. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to be up to date on what's happening with Ra-Ve Cultural Foundation and Kalaloka Institute of Fine Arts.
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