Durban dance and media celebrity, Kajal Bagwandeen, Iqraam Rahim and TV personality Shirdika Pillay will appear in The Eastern Evening at The Playhouse.

HIGH-profile Indian dance choreographers and local celebrities have teamed up to present a night of dance at The Playhouse in a bid to develop the local dance industry.

The Eastern Evening will showcase the talents of some up-and-coming young dancers under the guidance of seasoned professionals.

Helmed by dance go-getter Iqraam Rahim, the show will feature work by choreographer Kshitij Vaishnav from Mumbai – who has 20 years’ experience under his belt including working with Bollywood stars, choreographing major dance events like the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) acclaimed dance competition Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa UAE Dance Extravaganza 2014; and in South Africa, the Eastern Bridal Fair for the past few years under the internationally renowned Indian dance brand, Shiamak Davar.

Tonight caught up with Rahim, the founder of Rampage Dance Company, to find out more about how he has planned the evening which promises to be a showcase of a fusion of dance styles like Bollywood, Indian classical dance, hip hop, pantsula and more.

He said The Eastern Evening is intended to boost dance among the youth while affording them the opportunity to work with professionals and perform on a public platform.

“I think the face of dance is changing in Durban and we are gearing towards competing with dance on the international market. And I think this sort of dance development programme is imperative for us to have a strong foundation to be able to do this.

“Dance is an important platform of expression for young people. Integration is one of the key things that make us South African.

“As South Africans we don’t have a unique brand of dance and that can only come about once we start sharing our identities with each other. This programme is intended to help us do this. I think the younger generations are more confident in their individual identities and this is why I wanted to include them in this programme as opposed to only opening it up to the professional dance community,” he said.

The youth part of the event will see Crawford College North Coast compete against Northwood Boys for a cash prize of R5 000.

The prize also carries 10 hour-long choreographic sessions from Rampage Dance Company with a total value of R20 000 for the winning team’s next independent The Eastern Evening.

In addition to the youth acts, the public will also be treated to a guest performance by stage, radio, television and film celebrity, Kajal Bagwandeen.

She will perform a piece choreographed by Rahim.

SABC2 and LotusFM star, Shirdika Pillay, will also appear on the programme.

Bagwandeen will perform a piece choreographed by Rahim – a fusion of garba dance (Indian folk dance using sticks) and South African tribal dance.

“Kajal and I met about 12 years ago. My professional journey has been directed largely on her advice. When I started working on this project and event I wanted to include professionals who have helped me get to where I am today and it was important to have Kajal involved.

“The piece she will perform is Indian folk with a South African spin to it. I think it will be a dynamic piece in terms of costume and dance content, and at the same time speak to our South African and Indian identities, performed to popular music.

“This piece is also very important to me because as much as I have choreographed for events like the Durban July and the World Transplant Games, this is the first time that I’m actually putting my brand on stage, independently,” Rahim said.

Vaishnav is no stranger to the local dance fraternity, having worked with South African dancers before.

He said working on this project was a win-win situation: “I’ve seen the talent they have and it’s just a pleasure working with them again. This is a cross-cultural exchange. As much as I’m going to be teaching them, at the same time I will be getting to learn more about South African dance culture.

“Durban has tremendous potential in dance. I’ve worked with many dancers between 2007 and 2011 and I’ve seen them develop into professionals. It has been a pleasure teaching them. The best part is that along with the talent there is a hunger to know more,” he said.

• The Eastern Evening takes place at the Playhouse Opera Theatre for one night only on August 13. Early booking is advised through Computicket or the Playhouse box office at 031 369 9540.