Indian Dance

GemArts is strutting into Summer with Masala Festival 2019!

GemArts award winning Masala Festival is back, strutting into summer like a Bengal tiger from 15-21 July 2019, as we bring you another magnificent line up of classical, traditional and contemporary artists from the UK and Indian sub-continent, exploring themes of home, belonging, freedom, resistance, luck and hope. Download your Masala Festival 2019 brochure here.

Launching on 15th July, at Sage Gateshead, with an incredible collaboration and special evening of music composed and performed by the internationally renowned Sarod maestro Ustad Wajahat Khan with a String Quintet from our region’s fantastic chamber orchestra Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Followed by two of the most prominent women on the contemporary jazz scene, on 16th July Zoe Rahman and Laura Macdonald.

For spoken word and poetry, look no further than Luck and Hope: an evening of poetry  with two of the best poets writing today Mona Arshi and Imtiaz Dharkar at Culture Lab, and a stellar line up of regional spoken word talent in Strictly Spoken with our partners at Arch16.

We have a fantastic line up of films this year with: heartwarming, ‘feel good’ comedy of the year Eaten by Lions following half brothers Omar and Pete on a journey of discovery via Blackpool, featuring Jonny Vegas and Jack Carroll; stunning cinematography and subdued tension with The Sweet Requiem, showing an unforgettable reflection on an ongoing and forgotten Tibetan refugee crisis and contemporary film shorts about freedom, desire and resistance in Woman.

Writer, performer and professional wrestling manager, Pariah Khan brings his ‘shrewd and bitingly funny’ An Indian Abroad to Northern Stage on 20th July, where we follow the story of Krishnan, who is stifled by life in middle class India and decides to visit the exotic island of Great Britain. What will he learn about himself? And what happens when he falls in love with one of the natives?

9. An Indian Abroad - MAIN

If you want to get yourself moving, why not try out Bollywood dance,  yoga on the beach or if you are if need of a little TLC before the summer try out an introdution to Meditation.

Not to mention the amazing menu being cooked up by Dabbawal throughout the week, watch here for their menu reveal soon!!

Masala  Festival ends on Sunday 21st July at Live Theatre’ Garden with a spectacular fun packed Mini Mela finale, with FREE South Asian arts, craft, music and dance workshops for all of the family to enjoy. This year enter a seafront arcade in a caravan with ….. Elvis’ Bingo Balls, neon, sounds of the slots and an Indian Elvis as your bingo caller! Not to mention Circus Raj, a circus troupe from India performing throughout the day, with stilt walkers, extreme juggling, sword swallowing and acrobatics, plus dancing marionettes and much, much more…..

There really is something for everyone. Visit to find out more and book tickets.

Look out for our beautiful brochure around Newcastle and Gateshead or download your full brochure here GemArts Masala Festival 2019 Brochure



Choreography commission applications open

Akademi Choreography Commissions


Closing date: 18 November 2016, 12:00pm

We’re delighted to bring news of a choreographic development opportunity that will support four South Asian dance projects created by professional artists, from our partners Akademi. The applications will be divided as follows:

  • Two projects will be awarded with £5,000 to present a group choreography.
  • Two projects will be awarded with £2,000 to present a solo.

The choreography commissions are open to artists with a professional background in any Indian dance style.  Akademi will accept applications from the entire Indian dance canon; including all varieties of Indian dance from classical to contemporary, and everything in between.  These commissions will not support commercial work created specifically for an entertainment context.  The choreographer must be able to clearly articulate the project and the creative process that will be taken with this commission.

For more information on the commission visit


Image: Chris Nash

Image: Chris Nash

GemArts finished November 2014 with a spectacular duo of new works from our good friend Mayuri Boonham’s company ATMA Dance. Ex Nihilo/The Human Edge are a pair of complementary works, taking inspiration from sacred texts of India to explore the metaphysical origins of matter and the ancient questions of creation and human life.

Ex nihilo

There is an intriguing similarity between ancient philosophical questions of India and scientific inquiry about how our universe came into existence. The Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda will drive the choreography of Ex nihilo, which will be juxtaposed against a sound environment created from recordings of The Large Hadron Collider by Bill Fontana as part of his Prix Ars Electronica artist residency at CERN in Geneva.

The Human Edge

In this work Boonham looks at the perceivable aspect of the universe that is within our grasp – the human angle. The story of Sati, the first goddess, the first embodied energy who appears at the start of the Hindu mythological moment of creation. The choreography delves into the drama of Sati’s life, love and dramatic death as a metaphor of a star.

When Mayuri told GemArts about this new project, we were really excited and blown away by the enormity of the themes and subjects she would tackle. Something which also struck us, was the link to CERN and Bill Fontana’s recordings of the Largde Hadron Collider. Not only was Professor Higgs (who is recognised for identifying the Higgs Boson particle and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013) born in Elswick Newcastle, but we also have a superb Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) based at Durham University. To add something extra to the event, we invited Dr Alexander Lenz, Deputy Director at the IPPP, to join Mayuri Boonham in a post show In Conversation.

The performance was fantastic, the two pieces presented in a very unique way, with elements of jagged, almost mechanical movement in one followed by fluid, graceful sequences in the other. The sound and lighting was exceptional, breathtaking some said. Following the dancers performance, Dr Lenz and Mayuri led a lively discussion covering CERN, physics, dance, sound, silence, literature, maths, faith and much more.

You can read Living North’s review of the performance, plus In Conversation here.

Post by Sinead