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Festival – Shared History

Indian Magic in the Rainbow Country

On August 19, 2017 1 comments

As August approaches, the excitement builds as Teamwork’s festivals of India spread across the world map, making steady imprints across the globe. If you have been a loyal follower of all that Teamwork does for the revival of the arts essentially Indian, then you are aware that the Festivals of India showcase the multi-faceted idea of India abroad.



One of them has my particular attention – Shared History, a festival of India in South Africa. Shared History held in beautiful time of the year – spring, is a cultural extravaganza jointly hosted by the High Commission and Teamwork Arts New Delhi. Over the past eleven years, Shared History tells you the story of India, of South Africa, of their heritage and accomplishments, and all that binds the two countries together.



Two countries bound by the towering figures of history, freedom human liberation – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela come even closer, I feel, as festivals such as these create those heart-warming connections.

I am most thrilled by this year’s line-up: imagine. Dr. L. Subramaniam, who has been recognized as the foremost Indian composer in the realm of orchestral composition. Armed with a Master’s degree in Western Classical composition, distinctions in western violin studies, understanding of western technique, and his base in Indian Classical music, he is set out to create a new style of orchestral writing, and indeed a new genre. It will be fitting to see this maestro perform in celebration of India’s 70th year of Independence.



Then there is an evocative performance of the group Katkatha with puppets, masks and shadow puppets looking at Mahabharata as a dynamic story and exploring the inner dilemmas of 15 characters and whether each character choosing differently could have averted war? Or are we doomed for destruction?



South Africa has a vibrant Indian diaspora that has always looked towards India for validating its cultural identity while blending seamlessly in to South African rainbow population. A popular singer from India Vidya Shah will be singing Songs of Exile, which is a creative musical work, an ode to Ranjith Kally’s photographic book, Memory Against Forgetting, which captures the lost poignant world of the 1950s & 60s for South African Indians. Musician Vidya Shah draws from the rich oral history and sings the songs that the original immigrants left behind in India. Her words are drawn from the songs and poetry of that era.



Vidya’s music and Kally’s images are fused with words of the writer Kalim Rajab, who curated and contextualised the photographs and gave them their appropriate historical setting alongside the music. So be there to get a peek in to the emotional landscape of expat South African Indians of the fifties and sixties.

The fourth fare to bedazzle you is the classical dance performance from the renowned group Srjan. The word Srjan means creation and the many aspects of creativity. The group has performed the world over and earned high praise for the institute and its students. Srjan Dance Company will perform Odissi dance which speaks of love and union between human and the divine, transporting viewers to the enchanting world of magic and spirituality.



So, while I am dreaming of azure skies, emerald green parks, sounds of Indian music and dance wafting by, perhaps everyone in the blogosphere could gear up to watch this superlative eclectic mix at the Shared History Festival and keep pace with the frenzy which will capture the city soon! Do visit the teamwork website for details… totsiens people (that’s ‘bye in Afrikaans).


On July 24, 2017 0 comments

The First Look

Shared History: An Indian Experience in South Africa

Shared History, a Festival of Teamwork Arts in collaboration with the High Commission of India in South Africa came into existence in 2007, A festival of visual and performing arts, the festival is a unique endeavour platforming the wealth of India’s classical and contemporary cultural heritage including dance, theatre, music, food, film, literature and visual arts. The Festival of India attempts to provide audiences in South Africa an occasion to engage with the cultural diversity of India’s heritage.
Shared History is a festival that perfectly blends with the festivity and spirit prevailing in the rainbow country — South Africa. The conception of this festival was with a simple aim, i.e. to bring together cultures of two countries that share common histories.

Since its inception, Shared History takes to South Africa a mix of artists and acts varying from Music, Dance, Theatre, Comedy, Wellness and Food. These acts are made more interesting by collaborating with the local artists in South Africa resulting in an enthralling time spread over a period of 2-3 weeks.

This year Shared History is celebrating its 9th successful year. Beginning from the 4th to the 16th of September the festival will take place in 4 cities- Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria. The uniqueness of the festival lies in the successful cultural experiment highlighting the shared bonds between the two countries through performing arts. So don’t miss the dates and come be a part of History in making!


On July 24, 2017 0 comments

Shared History What to Expect

19th Aug 2015 sharedHistory 0
Shared History is an annual festival which showcases the best of contemporary arts and culture from the Indian subcontinent in South Africa, exploring the shared artistic bond and cultural history of the two countries.

The Festival runs from 4th — 16th September 2015 at the picturesque venues of Johannesburg and Durban.

The hallmark of the festival has always been its focus on events in the genres of Music, Dance, Theatre and Literature. Recent popular additions to the Festival are Yoga, Food, Handicrafts, Textiles and Comedy.

The Festival this year will encompass a wide range of artists showcasing the immense talent that India has to offer. Visitors can expect an array of events that will hold their attention for the whole duration of the Festival.

The Kutle Khan Project a unique collective of Rajasthani folk musicians highlighting Kutle Khan embodies the region’s rich melodic and sophisticated rhythmic traditions.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble is regarded as one of the foremost dance companies of India. Although steeped in and dedicated to ancient practice, Nrityagram dancers are also involved in carrying Indian dance into the twenty-first century.

Papa CJ is an established international comedian with over 800 shows under his belt. Papa CJ’s Naked straddles the genres of theatre, storytelling and stand-up comedy. It is a show that brings tales of school, work, love, passion, heartbreak and hope.

Simmi Areff is a comedian who spent a year undercover as a Wits Journalism student. A relaxed and affable persona belies an incredibly sharp mind that learns very quickly and has a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for knowledge.

C Sharp C Blunt is a play that looks at traditional gender roles as engrained by culture and the classical performance training versus the woman as the globalised consumer living in a new market that caters to her wants and needs. This cultural programming also defines the specific way girls and women are supposed to behave.

Sudarsan Pattnaik is a world renowned Indian sand artist from Orissa. He started sculpting images on sand since the age of seven and has designed hundreds of sand sculpture. Sand art, the practice of modelling sand into an artistic form has won Sudarsan 27 championship prizes for his country.

Memory against Forgetting is a solo collection chronicling the work of one of the most prolific and important photojournalists from South Africa’s recent past, Ranjith Kally. Kally’s life work offers a first-hand, on-the ground perspective of a country in upheaval and a society cleaved between the favoured and the dispossessed.

Yogathon is a group activity where people from all walks of life come together to revive their minds and souls by practicing Yoga. The therapy will take place in a park or in a vast open space to increase wellness of the mind, body and soul. This Yogathon will be conducted by well trained teachers.

At the IndiFood will be showcased in attractive stalls and live demonstrations. Tea tasting stalls will display gourmet teas grown in different regions of India.

So, it’s a Festival not to be missed if you are in these areas!


On July 24, 2017 0 comments

The Two Cities of Shared History

Johannesburg traditionally was a transit point for travellers. Although one of the largest urban agglomerates and the largest land locked city in the world, it was merely a pit stop to the more exciting Durban, Cape Town and Kruger National Park. To hold the interest of the international travellers and tourists many different attractions were developed to make Jo’burg as popular as its fellow cities.

History museums like the Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Museum and the Mandela Museum (located in the home of Nelson Mandela) are some such attractions. The Carlton Centre in the CBD area has an observation deck on the 50th floor from where the entire city scape can be viewed. The city has several art museums and theatres like the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Market Theatre complex and the Johannesburg Civic Theatre where visitors can satiate their artistic cravings. Gold Reef City, a theme park, depicting the mining life is a huge draw, as is the Cradle of Humankind which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are plenty of options for shopping to suit all kinds of pockets, from high end shopping malls to flea markets. Also, be warned, if anybody wants to boil an egg in Jo’burg make sure you set the timer for a minute longer than you would normally as the city is 2000 m above sea level and the air is not very dense.

DurbanDurban is the busiest sea port in South Africa and is second only to Jo’burg as a manufacturing hub. It is known for its long expansive beaches and balmy weather. The Golden Mile with the promenade running around it, is popular with tourists. Fondly known as “The Mile” it is a haven for sunbathers and the waters are ideal for surfing. Durban is also the home to the sites of the Zulu Kingdom and the Drakensberg. Don’t forget to visit the Ushaka Marine World while in Durban, it is the 5th largest aquarium in the world.

If you are in South Africa from 7th to 27th September do visit Johannesburg and Durban to participate in the Shared History Festival. While in Johannesburg don’t forget to visit the Wits Theatre, Lyric Auditorium, Classic India Restaurant, Theatre on the Square, and Gibbs University. Durban will host events at Playhouse, Durban Beach and Supernova Suncoast Cinema.


On May 16, 2017 0 comments

A Journey of Shared History

‘Shared History will be a unique celebration of ideas and content, presented in a spirit of collaboration between South African companies and those from India. Shared History is a platform for the arts which transcends language, social barriers and art forms.’ ~ Sanjoy Roy

Indian and South African recent history is defined by the struggles to eradicate racial discrimination and gain independence from British Colonisation. India’s Mahatma Gandhi and South African Nelson Mandela are world icons of peace and leading figures in the shared history of India and South Africa.

Teamwork Arts Shared History Festival brings an Indian experience to South Africa along with opportunities for cultural collaboration. The 2016 Shared History Festival will run from 31 August to 10 September and celebrates the festivals 10th consecutive year.

Shared History has flourished since the inaugural event in 2007. It has become one of South Africa’s most eagerly anticipated cultural events. Shared History extends beyond entertainment; providing a platform for dialogue and cultural engagement between India and South Africa. Teamwork Arts MD Sanjoy Roy believes that ‘It’s the arts that allow us a window to see different cultures and to understand where people come from’.

Mahatma Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years. Whilst in South Africa Gandhi campaigned against racial discrimination cultivated his philosophy of peaceful protest and found his purpose in life. In 1914 Gandhi returned to India where he played a pivotal role in India’s pursuit for independence. India gave its full support to South Africa in its fight against apartheid. Today over a million Indians live in South Africa.

From its roots in music, dance and theatre in 2007 Shared History has evolved to incorporate; visual arts, comedy, wellness, food, literature and yoga. The Shared History Festival is an opportunity for South African artists and performers to connect with Indian cultural heritage.

The Shared History Food Festival has evolved too. In 2015 foodies were given a taste of popular street food enjoyed all over India. This gave a wider culinary experience rather than concentrating on one regional cuisine. The Shared History Food Festival offers tasty treats from 4th to 8th September.

The Shared History Festival is produced by Teamwork Arts in partnership with The High Commission of India in South Africa and South African companies. Shared History 2016 kicks off with an opening ceremony at the Embassy of India in Jo’burg on 30th August .

Highlights of Shared History 2016 include:-

A Performance by award winning singer and composer Sonam Kalra and the Sufi Gospel.

The staging of ‘Dance Like A Man’. Mahesh Dittany’s award winning portrayal of Indian family life which recieved acclaim across India, the US and London.

The Shared History Festival 2016 ends with a grand finale music concert at the Mandela theatre on 9th September.


On May 16, 2017 0 comments

Shared History 2016

As August approaches, the excitement builds and I look eagerly at Teamwork’s festivals of India spread across the world map, making steady imprints across the globe. I have been a loyal follower of all that Teamwork does for the revival of the arts essentially Indian, and the festivals which showcase the multi-faceted idea of India abroad have a special place in my heart.

One of them has my particular attention – Shared History, a festival of India in South Africa. Unbelievable that ten years have passed since the first Shared History and this one, beginning on August 30th — September 10th, will actually mark ten years of the festival’s existence. The breathless build-up in Jo’burg, our very own modern-day El Dorado, has begun and the High Commission of India is being prepped up for the gala.

Shared History has covered a kaleidoscope of visual and performing arts events including Music, Dance, Theatre, Comedy, Wellness and Food from India and even this year collaborations between us and South African artistes are on in full swing. Two countries bound by the towering figures of history, freedom and liberation — Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela come even closer, I feel, as festivals such as these create those heart-warming connections.

I am most thrilled by this year’s line-up: imagine Sonam Kalra’s ethereal voice will resound across the South African city as she speaks of peace and equality through her unique brand of Sufi Gospel. I have goosepimples as I imagine the grand maestro Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty bringing alive Hindusthani classical in the historic Mandela theatre under a vivid almost violet South African evening sky as part of the festival’s grand finale.

The taut performance of Dattani’s Dance Like a Man, that acute portrayal of relationships is one of my all-time favourites and it will travel to the festival this year. And believe it or not, where there is India, there has to be Bollywood right? There will be the incomparable Gilles Chuyen with all his Bollywood masala and extravaganza in an open air dance workshop!

And alongside all of this, will run this delectable food festival with all of India’s glorious and signature dishes on the menu at the Classic India restaurant at Jo’burg’s tony Key West.

So while I am dreaming of azure skies, emerald green parks, sounds of jazz wafting by, perhaps everyone in the blogospshere could gear up to plan their next trip to SA along with the Shared History Festival and keep pace with the frenzy which will capture the city soon! Do visit the teamwork website for details… totsiens people (that’s ‘bye in Afrikaans!). I shall be back though with more details. Watch this space…


On May 16, 2017 0 comments

Festival Highlights

Shared History: An Indian Experience in South Africa 2015

The pre-festival rush, the during festival zest; everybody on their toes running around getting their act together, aiming towards one single point — The Indian Experience brought to life in South Africa.

Shared History 2015, the 9th edition of the festival, was held in the beautiful cities of Johannesburg and Durban spread over a period of 16 days. From music to dance and comedy to theatre, we had it all. And it was all possible because of the team efforts and love for the performing arts of every person involved – be it backstage, downstage or in the audience who made it memorable.

The festival kicked off with a very well put together Press Conference at the Consulate of India in Johannesburg that had a turnout of over 30 journalists and media personnel along with sponsors, and the festival associates. This media reception was followed by an opening reception evening hosted by the High Commissioner of India to South Africa, Mrs. Ruchi Ghanayshyam at her residence in Pretoria. The wonderfully curated evening was full of Indian Festivities with popular Ghazals and an Indian cuisine to die for.

The main Festival began with its first segment; the food festival hosted and curated by The Classic India Restaurant on the 7th of September went on till the 14th of September 2015. Mr. Manish Gupta, our sponsor and owner of The Classic India Restaurant curated a special menu with his team of Chefs from all over the streets of India. From vada pavs of Mumbai to kathi rolls of Kolkata continuing to the various chaats and gol gappas from the streets of Delhi, the food festival had everything you could relish from India in South Africa. Literally, the tastes from all corners brought together under one roof in a land away from home!

In the realm of dance we had the beautiful 3 dancers of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble from Bangalore that performed their way to glory and left the audiences speechless and overwhelmed in both Johannesburg and Durban. All four shows witnessed packed houses and people kept craving for more. From here we moved on to music which was from the culturally rich land of Rajasthan, the Kutle Khan Project. The tunes of the deserts mixed with world folk music had people on their feet and an encore at the Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City in Johannesburg. Following this was the wonderful comedy show “Naked” by PAPA CJ, which was an enriching experience for every member of the audience. Every aspect of the show so wonderfully put together that it had a dramatic turn at each step apart from the laughter that engulfed everybody. Both in Johannesburg and Durban, audiences were not just entertained but moved and touched by this wonderful performance. Again, packed houses witnessed for the same!

Our last bit for the festival was the Theatre show by Flinn Theatre — C Sharp C Blunt, an Indo-German collaboration about a woman’s struggles in society depicted amazingly and metaphorically by the use of a newly developed app, Shilpa! Shilpa or M.D. Pallavi, as she is known, surely won many hearts at the shows and yes, I think android just crashed due to the increasing downloads of the App! :p

The Festival is not yet over my friends, we are still left with the photo exhibition about which details will be out soon but it does not stop at that! We at Teamwork Arts and the Shared History Team in both India and South Africa, are waiting to see you next year in much bigger numbers.

It’s not yet goodbye, keep in touch, keep following us on Facebook, Twitter and just come visit us here now and then for updates. We love to make new friends and have more and more people with us to make the experience what it is! To the wonderful people of South Africa, Shaap Shaap, till we meet again!  See you next year!