Portland Ovations kicks off its 92nd season on Saturday, September 17th with Garba360, a lively and immersive community dance party that is free and open to the public. Anchored by live music by Kashyap Jani and Friends, a 5-piece Garba band based out of Connecticut and two guided dance tutorials starting at 4pm and 5:30pm, this unique event invites all to enjoy and learn the essential steps of the spirited Indian Gujarati folk dances of garba and raas. Audience members will be invited to craft their very own dandiya sticks, provided by Ovations, to be used for the partnered raas dance, which can then be taken to continue the dance at home or kept as a lovely memento of this joyous occasion.
Fun for the whole family, dance lovers, or those who’d rather sit back and watch the excitement unfold, Garba360 is a celebration of cultural heritage through ecstatic movement and music —all ages, abilities and backgrounds are invited to join one of the most exciting dance parties of the year. While there is no seating provided at Deering Oaks Park, guests are welcome to bring their own chairs and blankets to the event. The rain date for Garba360 is scheduled for September 18th from 1pm-4pm.
“Garba is a folk dance, a form of music, as well as the event at which Garba takes place,” said Heena Patel, Creative Producer of Garba360. “It is a joyous celebration; it is a dance that is done as a form of worship…and is also a dance we do whenever we want to celebrate. [Garba360] came from a space of wanting to share this practice with other people, reimagining the Garba experience I had growing up…and wanting to share that with the larger community.”
In Gujarati communities across the globe, Garba is a celebration, often performed as part of weddings, but particularly as part of Navaratri, a nine-day Hindu holiday. For Garba360, Heena Patel — cultural strategist, consultant, and producer — takes the intoxicating, high-energy folk dances typical of traditional garba and raas to new spaces and places for all to experience. Through her work with Mela Arts Connect — cultural connectors for South Asian performing arts and community — Patel draws on regional groups of Garba artists from the Gujarati diaspora, and has brought Garba360 around the country from Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing to Chicago Summer Dance to the Yerba Buena Garden, and now to Portland’s Deering Oaks Park.
“We are so looking forward to kicking off our 92nd season with another free, outdoor live performance as has been our tradition for the last several years,” said Ovations’ Executive & Artistic Director Aimée M. Petrin. “Garba360 promises to be a joyous and exciting event for all – whether you love to move, have two left feet or enjoy listening to live music.” As one recent attendee of an Ovations performance noted, “It doesn’t matter if it’s my language or my culture is on stage. What matters is that everyone here cares about and wants to be part of a larger global society.”