Drive East is a vibrant, explorative and immersive festival which stages classical forms of Indian music and dance. The festival is presented by Navatman, founded and curated by Sahasra Sambamoorthi and Sridhar Shanmugam. This year it brings artists together as a ‘Guldasta’ (bouquet) of creative expression in New York City and San Francisco with 40+ artists, 13 concerts over 5 days.

The festival has seen its sixth season in New York City and this week Navatman premieres Drive East  in San Francisco with a Carnatic music choir (NMC), a Bharatanatyam ensemble, (Abhinaya Dance Company, Navatman Dance), Odissi (Arushi Mudgal), Hindustani vocal (Pt. Rattan Mohan Sharma), Santoor (Vinay Desai), Ghazal gayaki (Vishal Vaid), and the soul stirring Sarode of Maihar Gharana, (Alam Khan). 

The India Currents Heritage Arts Initiative team had an opportunity to speak to Navatman West Coast Manager Nadhi Thekkek. Here are some excerpts:

’’ Drive East creates an intimate studio experience for an up close and personal connection with a range of artistic disciplines; Carnatic music, Hindustani music, ghazals, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Kuchipudi and even rarely seen art forms, like Sattriya (Assam) and Kathakali (Kerala).

‘’Besides being a platform for the South Asian classical arts, Drive East is becoming a way to promote local artists, giving them paid opportunities to develop professionally. In this year’s festival we have 12 acts, and even more individual artists, who are from North America. Many of those who are based on the west coast. The other 20 or so acts, span the globe. Aside from the US, artists this year hail from India, Singapore, and France. Both Sridhar and Sahi have a remarkable ability to choose artists with a diverse range of styles, identities, themes, and ages. They have been emerging, mid-career, and experienced professionals. All have the power to inspire. All must be given professional opportunities like these to continue to develop and grow their artistry’’.

Nadhi elaborated with her passionate love for the performative arts of India and went on to tell us how she has spent the last year traveling and attending performances in London, Vancouver, Chennai, San Jose, San Francisco, DC, Austin and New York.  ‘’I have found myself utterly taken by performances in all of these cities. And Drive East brings many of these artists all in one city and to one venue!’’

Undoubtedly, the festival is a catalyst for excellence. The New York Times, the New Yorker, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Hindu, and regional media channels have reviewed Drive East as a “must attend” festival. Check it out for yourself!

August 22 – 26, 2018, Joe Goode Annexe, 401 Alabama St, San Francisco, CA. 

Full Line Up:

Artist Videos:

Navatman youtube channel:

Festival at a glance:

Wed. August 22:        

 7-8:15 pm Alam Khan (Sarode) 

8:30-10 pm Arushi Mudgal (Odissi)

Thurs, August 23:      

7-8:15 pm Navatman Music Collective (Carnatic vocal choir)

 8:30-10 pm Shijith and Parvathy Nambiar (Bharatanatyam duo)

Fri. August 24:          

7:15-8:15 pm Locally Sourced: Manasa Suresh/NCS Ravali (Carnatic Vocal) 

8:30-10 pm Bhavana Reddy (Kuchipudi)

Sat. August 25:            

3:15-4:45 Dualities in Dance: Gender Roles in Bharatanatyam Performances by Sujit Vaidya, Kiran Rajagopalan, followed by discussion 6-7 pm Navatman Dance (Bharatanatyam)

7:15-8:15 pm Prabal Gupta (Kathakali)

8:30-10 pm Nirmala Rajashekar (Carnatic Saraswati Veena)

Sun. August 26:          

2-3 pm Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose (Bharatanatyam)

4-5 pm Raga Revelry, A Film Screening

5-6 pm Flute Raman Trio (Carnatic flute)

The Heritage Arts Initiative, India Currents, is delighted to be a Drive East champion. Over the few days, we shall bring you updates, creative bites and profiles.