The Jersey City-based Surati dancers and musicians have made a point each year of celebrating Indian Independence Day.
Last year, dancers associated with the group put on their show in front of Jersey City City Hall. This year, they were invited as the sole performance group to appear at the United Nations as part of the 70th anniversary celebration.
Surati, a nonprofit dedicated to education in the performing arts, performed before an audience made up of 800 delegates and dignitaries from around the world at the United Nations Headquarters for “India @ 70” — an event to celebrate 70 years of Independent India.
Although traditionally, such celebrations on held on Aug. 15, the actual day of independence, the UN held its event on Sept. 8.
The performance featured 15 dancers and musicians who performed Indian classical, folk, martial arts, and Bollywood, as well as hip-hop, jazz, afro-fusion, Flamenco and other world music and dance genres.
The program was hosted by India at UN (The permanent Mission of India to the United Nations). The performances were designed to highlight the various genres of Indian dance and music as well as art forms from all over the world, which drives home the universality of dance and demonstrates the camaraderie and goodwill among nations.
“We feel fortunate to have been hand-picked to showcase authentic Indian performing arts and world music and dance in all its diversity, for this momentous occasion at this prestigious venue.” said Rimli Roy, Founder and Artistic Director of Surati, who conceptualized and directed the performances.
“We feel fortunate to have been hand-picked to showcase authentic Indian performing arts.” — Rimli Roy
A non-violent movement that influenced civil rights
Independence Day is annually celebrated on Aug. 15 as a national holiday in India, commemorating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom. India attained independence on Aug. 15, 1947. Its Independence Movement was noted for largely nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience, led by the Indian National Congress. One of the leading figures in the independence movement was Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated six months after independence.
Gandhi’s approach to non-violent protest strongly influence American Civil Rights leaders, in particular Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and became a model for the non-violent Civil Rights movement in the united states.
Wide range of performances
Surati previously performed for the first official Diwali at the United Nations in fall 2016 representing India and Indian culture, which may have led to the most recent honor as the sole act at the 70th anniversary of independence ceremonies.
The Surati team has performed at prestigious venues throughout the United States and abroad including at the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Center.
Roy said the Sept. 8 show was a cross-section of Indian dance and world music, the dances comprised of Indian classical, folk, martial arts, and Bollywood, as well as genres from all over the world, which drives home the universality of dance, assimilating and integrating dances from various parts of the world, demonstrating the goodwill and camaraderie between nations.
The group formed in 2000 and was incorporated in 2002, and earned its non-profit status in 2012, Roy said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.