Dance Woking’s Mini Mela an enthusiastic success!

Dance Woking’s first Mini Mela took place at the Buzz Studio in Woking this February and was welcomed with enthusiasm and happiness from the local community. A celebration of South Asian Cultures, the event, in collaboration with Amina Khayyam Dance Company, brought the best of new South Asian arts to the city centre in this exciting event.

The festival was packed with head turning dance performances, comedy, film, music and talks & discussions

Dance Woking’s Mini Mela opened on Thursday 23 February at Buzz Studio, Woking with a premiere of Amina Khayyam Dance Company’s (AKDC) piece Striped Sari. At the opening were members from Surrey Dance Network, along with members of the public and supporters of Dance Woking, and Liaise Women’s Centre who provided the delicious South Asian inspired appetizers.  Amina Khayyam and two company dancers, Jane Chan and Abirami Eswar performed Striped Sari. A very personal piece that started its journey in AKDC’s workshop with Liaise Women’s Centre in Woking exploring the identify of what was once the national dress for South Asian women. A lively question and answer session followed the performance; feedback included form one audience member: 

I found the Q&A inspiring. What a pleasure to be in the presence of such articulate, intelligent and knowing women.……I could have listened to the conversation about the Sari, the culture, the history and difficulties faced by Asian women both from the husbands and male relatives and the sense of not belonging to either the East or West.’

Audience Member at Striped Sari

Friday saw three up and coming female South Asian Comedians take to the stage. Supported by a small but enthusiastic audience, there was good banter between the comedians and audience. Compere Bas Rahman was the stand-out performance and definitely a comedian to watch in future. Bas was joined by Monica Chatterjee and Alex Bertulis-Fernandes.  

Buzz studio was filled on Saturday with community groups dancing in South Asian styles with Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Bollywood and Chinese Classical dancing. The theatre was filled with an amazing array of colour and lavish costumes and make-up. More details to follow.

Saturday 4 March saw an afternoon of film at Nova Cinema with an Art House Film, A Thousand Borrowed Eyes, a short film focusing on Kathak dancer and choreographer, Nahid Saddiqui, followed by a special in-person Q&A with Nahid. If you like Bollywood Blockbusters, Pakeezah, on the big screen, will give you an opportunity to enjoy some nostalgia. The day was completed with a live performance double bill of ‘Bird’ and ‘Manchild’ by AKDC with live music accompaniment of the tabla and Cello closes the festival. 

Sam McCaffrey, Artistic Director, Dance Woking said, ‘this festival has been filled with so much joy. We have presented an inspiring programme, curated by Amina Khayyam Dance Company, that has featured three very different evenings, all themed with a South Asian element and each has been well received.  We look forward to building on this our first Mini Mela.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in bringing this festival to Woking – we can’t wait to build on it’s success next year.