Shiv Nadar School’s Kaafila Festival Highlights Art Forms Marginalised by Modern World

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Noid: Kaafila, the first-ever annual arts festival organized by Shiv Nadar School Noida, successfully concluded after two days of captivating performances and activities by more than 500 students of Grades 9-12 from different schools in Delhi-NCR. These included workshops, lecture demonstrations, exhibitions, one-act plays and Battle of the Bands.

The first-of-its-kind arts festival, entirely led by students, grew out of Shiv Nadar School’s theatre and literary festival held last year. The inaugural edition of the event was centered around the theme of “Speaking from the Margins.” It aimed to give space to voices that are marginalized – artists, communities, art forms and issues that need to be heard and honoured. Artists from across rural and urban spaces from different parts of the country were invited to conduct workshops and give demonstrations and lectures to students and teachers.

Said Shashi Banerjee, Principal, Shiv Nadar School Noida: “The idea behind the Kaafila arts festival was to provide students an environment that challenged them into discovering their talent and skills and fostered a culture of creativity. There are several art forms, artists and people left behind and forgotten by the times throughout the world. We aimed to shine a light on a few of them through the theme of ‘Speaking from the Margins. We believe that art and musical expression can act as the voice of the oppressed and give them an opportunity to be heard. The festival saw a heady mix of creativity and talent and was a huge success.”

Four competitive events were held across two days of the festival. While “Bread & Circuses” comprised of one-act plays, the “Folk-fluence” showcased dance forms from around the world. “Iridescence” celebrated unusual folk art forms and visual storytelling styles from different countries. “Strings Attached!” involved solo, duo/trio and band music. Winning teams from various schools were feted with awards. Interestingly, Kaafila was a zero-waste event, with students encouraged to take environmentally conscious decisions.

Said Manjima Chatterjee, Head of Arts, Shiv Nadar School Noida, “Art caters to the basic values of education: freedom to think, freedom to voice opinions, and freedom to feel and to create. The purpose of Kaafila was to motivate the budding student artistes to speak about the society through their art. The students came up with amazing concepts in tune with the theme of giving voices to the marginalized in the society.”

The first day began with a tribal mask making competition, with students creating their own masks to represent their external and public persona. A two-hour workshop followed on Ikat, an elaborate dyeing technique used to pattern threads that are then woven into textiles such as silk and cotton. This art form is common to many world cultures and is one of the oldest forms of textile decoration, with distinctive geometric and floral patterns which are achieved through weaving. In India, Ikat developed in the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The workshop introduced students to the process of Ikat weaving and designing. A three-hour Musical Composition workshop was also held, enabling students to channel their creativity into rhythm and melody. They learnt the basics of musical theory and got to compose their own tunes.

Bread and Circuses was an innovative attempt to use theater as a platform for students to showcase their talent and take a stance on issues that are stirring the conscience of every society in this world. Various schools were invited to enter with a half-hour theatrical production relevant to the theme ‘Speaking from the Margins.’ The day concluded with an inter-school musical competition which created an environment where art and musical expression acted as the voice of the marginalized communities, giving them an opportunity to be heard.

The second day of the event offered a string of mesmerizing performances. Students at “Folk-fluence” showcased different folk-dance forms and brought forth the fusion of forgotten folk forms of dance from all over the world, celebrating diversity and inclusivity. The choreography workshop that followed taught the basics of choreography to aspiring dancers.

Students also got to learn the art of making Mandana, a form of intricate folk painting that is drawn on earthen mud walls, courtyards and floor spaces of mud houses. Found in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Mandanas are done with bare hands using chalk powder on walls.

The idea behind “Trash Bash” competition was to make a stambh or totem out of scrap, with a view to enable discovery of one’s personal and behavioral mannerisms as an element of their culture. Students were encouraged to research on totems and the animal icons represented on them, especially in Central India. They developed their own unique totem out of waste materials as a comment on today’s rampant consumerist culture.

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