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Serendipity Arts Festival strikes again

Among the gamut of initiatives, Serendipity is unique in that no other Indian festival brings together disparate fields of art, music, theatre, dance, food and craft with such panache

A dance performance at the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2016. Photo: Serendipity Arts Trust
A dance performance at the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2016. Photo: Serendipity Arts Trust

While more pressing matters of health, education and poverty weigh on the government, private enterprises have stepped in to whet the country’s growing appetite for arts and culture. Some of the remedial initiatives by big companies include the Godrej India Culture Lab, HCL Concerts series, Tata Literature Live! – The Mumbai LitFest and myriad art initiatives by Jindal Group’s JSW Foundation.

There was, then, nothing serendipitous about the inception last year of the Serendipity Arts Festival, devised by Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of Hero Enterprises. It won acclaim for its foolproof execution and diverse programming. This year it’s upping the ante with three times the programming. The second edition will run from 15-22 December, across different venues in Panaji, Goa.

Among the gamut of initiatives, Serendipity is unique in that no other Indian festival brings together disparate fields of art, music, theatre, dance, food and craft with such panache. With a stellar group of curators and organization matching world standards, the festival stands poised to draw global attention. But the preponderance of events can be intimidating. Lounge picks five events that serve as amuse-bouche to the veritable main course of 73 projects by 900 artists spread across 10 locations.

Planetary sculpture picnic

Geologists believe the havoc being wreaked by humans on Earth’s ecosystem is upsetting normal geological cycles and ushering in another geological epoch: anthropocene, from the ancient Greek word anthropos, meaning human, and cene, new or recent. Holocene, the ongoing epoch, began some 12,000 years ago. Through a 90-minute “eating experience", this workshop hopes to spread awareness about anthropocene and ask questions. To quote a few: what our environment tastes like; what the flavour properties of our polluted land, air and water are; and the sustainable way of eating in the anthropocene.

Through a four-course meal, it aims to “put our bodies back into the planetary agro-ecosystem". The surprise of what that might entail is reserved for participants. It could be a culinary experience bringing home new ecological revelations or just another meal served with a sprinkling of sanctimony. Book, to find out.

Planetary Sculpture Picnic will run from 19-21 December, 10-11.30am. Register at

Bean to bar tasting & dialogue

Blueberry, orange, banana, cherry, kiwi might be fruits, but to a discerning chocolate gourmet they’re also “notes" that can be tasted in a good bar of chocolate, especially if it’s the “bean-to-bar" kind. The bean-to-bar revolution is now well recorded in the annals of cosmopolitan culinary lore. It involves controlling every stage of chocolate-making: from processing the cocoa bean to the final packaged bar in your hand. That way, “chocolate sommeliers" claim, it preserves complex flavours, antioxidants and other life-prolonging chemical compounds.

Fruity notes, though, are just a start. A full “chocolate tasting wheel" is easily accessed on the web, capturing all possible “flavour profiles". Within 360 degrees, the wheel covers most of the offerings of a well-stocked grocery store, from the vegetable notes of asparagus or broccoli to tobacco or petroleum of the “other" section. Expect a similar palatal adventure with this workshop by Mason & Co., India’s first organic chocolate makers based in Auroville, who follow the bean-to-bar approach. One can learn to differentiate between “different roasts, percentages and origins" with beans sourced from India, Honduras, Bolivia and Vietnam. The session claims to turn “dark chocolate lovers into cocoa connoisseurs", with the added benefit of sounding alliterative.

Bean To Bar Tasting & Dialogue will be held on 16-17 December at different times. For more information, visit

A night in Harlem

The impact of Harlem, a New York City neighbourhood, on art, literature and music has been such that the phenomenon led to the coining of the term “Harlem Renaissance". In the early 1900s, the contributions of its large African-American population left a mark on the world of jazz, literature, fashion and theatre. This event aims to recreate the sonic atmosphere of the iconic Harlem clubs where jazz blossomed, like The Cotton Club (Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong often performed there), Apollo Theatre and Alhambra Ballroom. Curated by composer and music director Ranjit Barot, the artists include British saxophonist Sean Freeman and Louis Banks, the composer, instrumentalist and “godfather of jazz in India".

A Night In Harlem will be held on 20 December, 8.30pm. For more information, visit

Dance like a mother

Providing a counterpoint to the youthful tilt of other activities, this act is for “mothers, fathers and grandparents over 60!" A performance workshop that involves dancing without inhibitions, it will explore issues of parenthood. With its rhythmic lightheartedness and as an ode to parenting, the workshop promises to dance its way off the proverbial beaten path.

Dance Like A Mother will be held from 17-21 December, 11.30am-4pm. For more information, visit er-2

Laban for the performer

How is knowledge in performing arts preserved for posterity? Musicians have notation; actors have their lines; but what do dancers do? In India, the guru-shishya tradition reigns supreme, where the movements are passed on in an unbroken line. But in the West, Rudolf Laban, a Hungarian dance artist and theorist, came up with “Labanotation", a written method that records movements using graphical symbols and geometrical shapes. Through a standardized lexicon, different symbols (like the rectangle, circle, bent lines or triangles) convey which body part to move, the direction of the movement, its duration, and the dynamics to incorporate. This workshop, led by director Faezeh Jalali, will focus on storytelling and expressing oneself through movement using Labanotation.

Lose Your Mind, Use Your Body: Laban For The Performer will be held on 19 December, 10am-1pm. For more information, visit here

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