Darbar Festival comes to Sadler’s Wells for the first time


A celebration of classical Indian music and dance, featuring curation and appearance by Akram Khan MBE

London, UK – Following sellout programmes at Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, and Southbank Centre, the finale repertoire of Darbar Festival 2017 comes to Sadler’s Wells for the first time from 9 – 12 November. A carefully crafted invitation to delve into the best of current classical Indian music, this year Darbar engages its sister art form by presenting classical dance as well as music. The festival-first collaboration of these two art forms will offer a rare chance to experience live the vibrancy and emotional power of these medium combined, firmly rooted in tradition yet in constant reinvention. Furthermore, the visionary Akram Khan MBE has curated the dance element and will be making a rare appearance onstage before his imminent retirement from full-length pieces.


Darbar Festival this year unites the finest exponents of Indian classical dance with established, Indian classical music, both revered musical masters and new talents of the Subcontinent, for which the festival has been synonymous since its 2006 inception. Co-curated by Sandeep Virdee OBE and master dancer, choreographer andSadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan MBE, the festival will offer an immersive experience for audiences across four days of the finest Indian classical music and dance, marking a first in the history of both genres in the UK.

Choreographer Akram Khan Credit: Lisa Stonehouse

The programme will open with a UK Premiere, Akram Khan, Tala and Raga Experience, a triple bill concert taking place at Sadler’s Wells on Thursday 9 November. Dance impresario, Khan, will perform a short solo focussing on his kathak tradition, the classical dance form of North India. Patri Satish Kumar, a musician from the great Carnatic tradition, will perform with Triplicane Sekar on the Tavil (the first time this South Asian percussion instrument will be featured in the festival) and Amrit Khanjira on khanjira. Pravin Godkhindi and Supreet Deshpande follow with ragas – one of the key structures of Indian music – on basuri flute and tabla, India’s iconic percussion drums.

Patri Satish Kumar

Ragas, Sarod and Fiery Dance on Friday 10 November at Sadler’s Wells will comprise a triple bill of dynamic new talents, with international star of bharatanatyam, Mythili Prakash, and noted kathak perfomer Dheerandra Tiwari, alongside a music concert by the remarkable Debasmita Bhattacharya on the emotive sarod, joined by Gurdain Rayatt on tabla.

Debasmita Bhattacarya

Secret of Midnight Ragas on Friday 10 November at Lilan Baylis Studio will showcase the inimitable talent of Indrani Mukherjee, one of the finest classical vocalists performing today. In this intimate baithak (traditional floor seated concert), she will perform night-time ragas into the small hours, accompanied by Sanju Sahai on tabla and Milind Kulkarni on the harmonium 

Escape Through Morning Ragas on Saturday 11 November at Lilian Baylis Studio will present Pandit Ram Kumar Mallick and Samit Kumar as they unfold their morning ragas through dhrupad, one of India’s oldest and most evolved art forms, that the Mallick family has evolved over 12 generations of musicians. They will be accompanied by Surdarshan Chana on the jori, a powerful percussion instrument from Punjab.

Surdarshan Chana

Afternoon Raga Effect on Saturday 11 November at Lilan Baylis Studio will welcome Arshad Khan, enveloping the audience through afternoon ragas with the esraj, an earthy and soul-stirring string instrument that was revived by the Sikh Gurus and Rabindra Sangeet some 300 years ago. Tabla master, Shabaz Hussain, will accompany.

Arshad Khan

Triple bill concert Indian Adventures of Sitar and Dance on Saturday 11 November at Sadler’s Wells will provide a rare chance to see two, internationally acclaimed dance artists, kathak dancer Aditi Mangaldas, and bharatanatyam soloist, Mavin Khoo, who will perform with vocalist OS Arun, and one of India’s most distinctive sitarists of her generation, Shahana Banerjee, with Supreet Deshpande on tabla.

Benares Rhythm Essentials on Saturday 11 November at Lilian Baylis Studio is a special midnight concert through which stories of the Sikhs’ persecution by Moghul rulers will be evoked by the emerging master, Surdarshan Chana, through the jori and the language of paranth (oral notation). He will be accompanied by Milind Kulkarni on the harmonium. 

Spirit of Morning Ragas on Sunday 12 November at Lilian Baylis Studio will welcome in the festival’s final day with Indrani Mukherjee’s honeyed, vocal timbre set to envelop the intimate, baithak concert alongside harmonium maestro, Milind Kulkarni, and table performer, Gurdain Rayatt.

Indrani Mukherjee

Rhythm Unleashed on Sunday 12 November at Lilian Baylis Studio will showcase the talent of Supreet Deshpande, a musician fast emerging as a rhythmic, tabla genius. In his UK debut, he explores traditional rhythmic patterns as he unravels improvised ragas whilst taking inspiration from the audience, accompanied by Milind Kulkarni. 

Double bill concert Nishat Khan and the Soul of Khayal on Sunday 12 November at Sadler’s Wells will present Pandit Kaivalyakumar interpreting spiritual evening songs from the North Indian khayal tradition, with Gurdain Rayatt on tabla and Milind Kulkarni on harmonium providing resolute accompaniment. The second session will welcome virtuoso sitar player, Nishat Khan, torchbearer of one of India’s most renowned musical families, performing with tabla maestro, Shahbaz Hussain.

Something Then, Something Now 
on Sunday 12 November at Lilian Baylis Studiowas first created for Wild Card at Sadler’s Wells in 2014, which showcased a new generation of dance makers. This solo presents classical bharatanatyam repertoire in a contemporary way, through the talent of Seeta Patel. With stunning light design by Guy Hoare, Patel returns with a developed, full ev
ening work, which previewed at Darbar Festival 2016. 

Seeta Patel

Darbar Festval at Sadler’s Wells will also provide masterclass insights into Indian dance, comprising talks and live, one-to-one coaching: Dance Masterclass: Aditi Mangaldas on Friday 10 November, Ashton Studio; and Dance Masterclass: Mavin Khoo on Sunday 12 November, Ashton Studio will provide live coaching and unique insights into Indian dance from these leading artists; while Talk with Akram Khan onSaturday 11 November, Lilian Baylis Studio will present an in conversation with session not to be missed by fans, dance aficionados and performance arts enthusiasts.

Darbar Festival 2017

A celebration of classical Indian music & dance

Sadler’s Wells & Lilian Baylis Studio

Thursday 9th – Sunday 12th November 2017

Tickets: £12 – £50

Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or www.sadlerswells.com



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The Darbar Festival was started in 2006 by Sandeep Virdee ­– the Founder of Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust ­– in memory of his father, Gurmit Singh. The Trust presents concerts across the UK bringing Indian music to a wider audience. Since 1956, when Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and then Pandit Ravi Shankar famously collaborated with western musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin and the Beatles, there has been a growing interest in Indian music as heard in Bollywood films, heavily influenced by the Indian classical tradition. Although there is a growing curiosity for this tradition, it still remains underrepresented in concert venues across the globe. Darbar’s mission is to fill that gap, bringing to the UK the most seasoned and rising talents in Indian music and performance arts.

Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With over three centuries of theatrical heritage and a year-round programme of performances and learning activities, its goal is to motivate everyone to experience dance – to take part, learn, experiment and be inspired. Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at partner venues across the UK and around the world, or accessing its content through digital channels. 
Sadler’s Wells commissions and presents more new dance work than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 140 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today. It also nurtures the next generation of talent through its artist development initiatives, and reaches over 25,000 annually through its learning and engagement programmes
Located in Islington, north London, the current theatre is the sixth to have stood on the site since it was first built by entrepreneur Richard Sadler in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera having all started at Sadler’s Wells. Sadler’s Wells is a charity and a National Portfolio Organisation, currently receiving 10% of its revenue from Arts Council England.