Each year, the Strand of Silk team looks forward to the Southbank's annual Alchemy festival, and this year was no exception. Bringing South Asian music, dance, art and food to the Royal Festival Hall and surrounding area, the festival added a real splash of colour to Central London. We only wish it was a permanent fixture!
Once again, the organisers of Alchemy excelled themselves with their rich and varied programme. From a performance of traditional village-style puppetry, to Kathak inspired dance and contemporary beat boxing, there was plenty on offer to interest everyone. Highlights for us included taking part in a relaxing yoga class, listening to clarinettist Arun Ghosh and his lively band and, of course, attending the festival's glamorous fashion show.
In India, food plays a hugely important role in culture, and it was no different at Alchemy. Both weekends during the festival saw a vibrant market spring up in Southbank Centre Square, offering such treats as dosas, nimbu pani and bhel puri. There was also a pop-up cookery theatre, where we were able to watch demonstrations and find inspiration for our own culinary escapades.
Each year, the organisers of Alchemy put on a different Bollywood film; for 2012, however, they decided to give the screening a bit of a twist. Instead of showing a classic such as Sholay or Umrao Jaan, the Southbank Centre produced its own Bollywood blockbuster, incorporating members of the public in the song and dance routines. It was a fantastic way of getting Londoners to interact with Indian culture, and of demonstrating the beautiful results which can be achieved when Eastern and Western energy and aesthetics are combined.
Now that Alchemy has come to an end, we're left with lots of good memories, colourful photographs and a bit of a craving for Indian street food. We can't wait for next year's festival!
Left: The Arrival Showcase - Right: Taste of India: Food, Indian Clothing, Crafts and Jewelry from India