Sandip Roy, Susmita Bhatacharya, and Joti Singh have something in common: They’re the first South Asians to participate in a performing arts festival at Evergreen Valley College.
Why would a community college would make an investment in the arts during troubled economic times? Pointing to a new set of buildings on his San Jose campus, President David Wain Coon says, “We wanted to share with the community what their bond dollars have provided: a theater, studios, and classrooms for our 2D and 3D programs, music and dance practice spaces, and an art gallery.” He believes that a robust arts program is key to developing and retaining talent in the South Bay, and the ARTiculate Festival is just the kickoff.
Given the growing numbers of Asians in the South Bay and on campus, EVC’s mission was to feature a diverse group of dancers, journalist, musicians, actors, and artists. “Evergreen Valley College is home to a richly diverse population of Indo-American, Vietnamese, Filipino, Pakastani, Pacific Islander, Korean, Chinese, Afghan, Japanese, Somali, and Latino students, and we’ve worked hard to include activities that will engage and represent them,” adds Coon.
This is where Roy, Bhatacharya, and Singh come in.
Calcutta-born and trained as an engineer, Roy worked in the Silicon Valley before taking the plunge into journalism. “I was always drawn to writing but never thought it could be a viable career. I wrote for publications like Trikone, India Currents, and Pacific News Service on the side for years along with my software job,” he says. Now Roy is an editor at the highly successful New America Media. He also hosts the radio show “New America Now” on NPR, as well as a commentator on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and blogs on Huffington Post.
At the ARTiculate Festival, Roy will present the winners of the Ethnic Media Awards as well as the stories that fly under the radar of traditional media: a human trafficking ring that stretches from Mexico to the taquerias of San Jose; tensions that arise when Koreans start moving into a historic Japantown. As Roy relates the award-winning stories to a new generation of cross-cultural writers, he hopes that this type of journalism will eventually blur the line between ethnic and mainstream media.
Susmita Bhatacharya, a Gold Medalist in Indian Classical Dance who has been performing, choreographing, teaching for more than 20 years in India, the U.S., and Canada, is very concerned about passing on her rich heritage to young dancers. Working with talented students and Bay Area professionals, Bhatacharya’s Payal Dance Company will present “Nritya Tarang,” a two-hour show consisting of 12 classical, contemporary, and fusion dance movements. “I try to create a heightened understanding of the incredible variety and richness of classical Indian dance forms, not by presenting them in isolation, but by juxtaposing them with compositions involving modern and Western dance styles,” says Bhatacharya.
Joti Singh’s passion for celebration and joyous movement leads her to incorporate Mexican, West African, French, and hip hop rhythms into her choreography. She has traveled to Guinea several times to master West African dance, staged a cutting-edge narrative performance about Guantanamo Bay, and is currently working with Zenon Barron of Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco to choreograph a piece about Punjabi-Mexicans in the Imperial Valley.
“By exposing myself to different cultures and situations that are uncomfortable, I find myself opening up and learning ways of looking at the world not just from one perspective but multiple perspectives,” Singh says. “It makes my work much more layered and interesting.” Two years ago, Singh founded Duniya Dance and Drum Company and works with a stable of performers from diverse cultures.
At ARTiculate, Duniya will combine high energy bhangra dance with Afro-contemporary choreography, West African drums and a xylophone-like instrument called the balaphone.
Other events at ARTiculate include a dynamic bilingual play about an immigrant family; a lecture about how physics impacts rock ’n’ roll; an experimental sound workshop with acclaimed performer Pamela Z; and a presentation how Japanese artists influenced Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh.
Monday, Sept. 21-Saturday, Sept. 26, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Evergreen Valley College, 3095 Yerba Buena Road., San Jose. (650) 224-7580. [email protected]. For compete schedule: www.evc.edu/articulate. Parking is free.