Mandala Makers Festival Showcases Multidisciplinary Artists

Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, which connects audiences and students with the vibrancy, flavors, and colors of the performing arts traditions of South Asia, presents its fourth annual Mandala Makers Festival June 16-26, returning to in-person performances in the Devon Avenue community and concluding with an Artist Showcase June 24-26 at Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W. Lunt Avenue, Chicago, including indoor (Cultural Center) and outdoor (Nature Play Area) spaces. All events are free and open to the public.

The festival features nationally recognized and emerging artists who reside in the community in and around Devon Avenue, a hub for immigrants and members of the South Asian diaspora. “One of the festival’s goals is to amplify voices and draw attention to the generations of artists, communities, and culture in the neighborhood to promote positive change through better representation of and advocacy for artistic communities of color,” said Mandala Associate Artistic Director Ashwaty Chennat , who is curating the festival.

Artists and collaborators, who represent performance disciplines including music, dance, drag, storytelling, community-devised work, and interdisciplinary creations are responding to specific cultures, art forms, and perspectives from South Asian traditions.

Programming, some site-specific, takes place throughout the neighborhood and in unusual spaces, such as street corners and social service agencies such as Mandala’s partner, the Indo-American Center. Mandala is also collaborating with Aao Mil Baithen, a community initiative that brings people together through arts and culture and is supporting programming, curation, and production of Mandala Makers Festival events. Aao Mil Baithen is a project of Space Shift collective, created by Chicago artists who seek to activate spaces in unusual and exciting ways through the arts.

The lineup for the culminating Artist Showcase is as follows:

Friday, June 24

5 pm: Aao Mil Baithen-DJ set with South Asian flair

6 pm: Masood Haque-comedian, actor, writer

6:20 pm: Vik Pandya-nationally touring stand-up comic

6:45 pm: Ishti Collective-radical acts of dance, storytelling, artistic risk-taking, moving forward in a polarized sociopolitical world

7:15 pm: Shalaka Kulkarni-Indian classical and contemporary dance forms, exploring gender fluidity, empowering marginal voices

7:40 pm: Anjal Chande – Soham Dance Space – innovative creative dance performance

8:15 pm: Ochin Pakhi-Bengali music band from Chicago

9 pm: Priya Darshini-musician rooted in Hindustani and Carnatic Indian music combined with improvisation and worldwide musical influences; Max ZT-improvisatory hammered dulcimer Saturday, June 25

5 pm: Aao Mil Baithen- DJ set with South Asian flair
6:30 pm: Laksha Dantran-original dance-theatre performance featuring LGBTQ perspectives
6:50: Krissy Bergmark-table player, percussionist, composer
7:10 and 8 pm: PM Tummala-multi-instrumentalist who combines influences such as spiritual jazz, dub, musique concrète, Tropicália, ambient, and hip-hop/vinyl culture
7:30 pm: Radia Ali (Noori) – multidisciplinary performing artist, poet, fire dancer
8:25 pm: Shamik-Asian producer and beatboxer
8:45 pm: Lil Idli – experimental pop duo of vocalist Ranjani Prabhakar and producer/percussionist Deepak Gopinath
9:10 pm: Abhijeet’s Bollywood Drag Divas-representing the vibrant queer Desi performance scene

Sunday, June 26
1:30 pm: Max ZT-improvisatory hammered dulcimer musician
2 pm: Souryadeep Bhattacharyya-part of new generation of Indian classical musicians
2:30 pm: Aqil Brothers-heart of Bangla Qawali and Lokogeethi folk music
3:30 pm: Solo classical dance performances: Laksha Dantran; Hema Karunakaram- award-winning dancer, community builder, committed to improving South Asian allyship with BIPOC communities; Roosha Mandal-multidisciplinary dance artist; Colin Mascarenhas-Odissi Dance artist and LGBTQI+ activist
4:25 pm: Anvita Hariharan-Carnatic saxophone
4:45 pm: Mandala Ensemble – a collaboration of Mandala’s dance and music ensemble, showcasing generational talent from emerging artists and also featuring Souryadeep Bhattacharyya, Laksha Dantran, Anvita Hariharan, and Colin Mascarenhas

“In this Year of Chicago Dance, Mandala Makers Festival highlights the contemporary South Asian dance that has emerged in Chicago from independent dancemakers, many of whom work with the popular ‘classical’ form of Bharatanatyam dance,” said Chennat. “The festival also showcases less common forms embedded in South Asian arts—and their diasporic responses—such as Sufi dances, Odissi, and forms from the Caribbean diaspora. The festival explores the juxtaposition of generational continuity and preservation from traditional practitioners with contemporary artists. “

The Mandala Makers Festival is partially supported by a Neighborhood Access Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The Mandala Makers Festival takes place June 16-26, 2022 at indoor and outdoor locations in the Devon Avenue community, culminating with the Artist Showcase June 24-26 at Indian Boundary Park, indoors at the Cultural Center and outdoors at the Nature Play Area,
2500 W. Lunt Avenue, Chicago.

Visit makersfestival.mandalaarts.org for schedule updates. All events are free to the public;
donations are welcome at mandalaarts.org/donations. All programming is subject to change.

Mandala connects audiences and students with the vibrancy, flavors, and colors of the performing arts traditions of South Asia, offering powerful engagement with unique and expert dancers, musicians, storytellers, artists, and educators whose origins reach from the Himalayan ranges to the Indian Ocean , from Persia to Indonesia. Mandala’s ensemble dancers and musicians, teaching artists, and artistic collaborators and outreach partners bring folk and classical traditions, as well as current and hybrid innovations, to life. Mandala promotes cultural awareness and exchange through entertainment and education.

Mandala South Asian Performing Arts is supported by The Richard Driehaus Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

For more information, visit mandalaarts.org.

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