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Speak Out: Viva Kultura’s ‘Discover India’ coming to NYC and the Northeast

By Brinda Raval
arttimesjournal August 29, 2017

dancers   martial arts

Have you ever thought of how each person has multiple worlds within them? “I contain multitudes”, the famous line by Walt Whitman goes. 

It’s true. Each of us are the fusion of multiple worlds and experiences, but it's our human tendency to pigeonhole people based on one or two factors - prominent culprits include skin color, accent, or religion. I’m guilty of this myself, and I’ve realized that the only way to move past this is to actively choose to see complexity in those we think are different from us.

Growing up as the child of Indian immigrants in a town where I was very much a minority, my Indian culture meant one of three things to most people: Bollywood, vegetarianism, and worshipping cows. While these are all valid associations, like all generalizations they don’t provide the full picture.

As I’ve grown fully into my American identity, I want my peers to experience the richness that Indian culture represents for me. The arts are a powerful medium for cultivating empathy, because it is hard to categorize someone as an ‘other’ when you experience what they find beautiful, what they find tragic, and what they find empowering.

Though modern Indian culture can be perceived and categorized in countless ways, the ancient Indian philosophical tradition has influenced much of its ancient and contemporary culture. Thus, many of the traditional Indian art forms that we see today developed around the spiritual core of India’s philosophical tradition. The arts in any culture generally explore the many facets of the human condition - bravery, romance, lust, greed, opportunity, hope, and so on. The beauty of much of the Indian arts is that while they explore these themes, they cannot help but to also weave those facets back to a philosophical center which aims to understand the mystery of existence and the true purpose of life. So while Bollywood, vegetarianism and our love of cows are all true snippets of Indian culture, I experience Indian culture in my daily life as something that is so much more beautiful, expansive, and thought-provoking.

hooded dancers   acrobat

That is why I’m working to organize the US tour of a performing arts group known as Viva Kultura. Viva Kultura consists of over 40 artists from 15 countries that will come together in their Discover India performance in a stunning fusion of classical dance, live music, aerial acrobatics, theatre, and martial arts to present a 3-hour foray into the heart of ancient Indian cultural expression. This diverse and successful group has been performing for audiences of up to 500,000 people in Poland for the past 30 years and has also toured India, Australia, Brazil, and Moldova. While touring Australia, they were dubbed the “Indian Cirque du Soleil.”

The Discover India production, performed by Viva Kultura, depicts a famous story etched into one of India’s seminal philosophical texts, the Bhagavat Purana. The tale goes: a powerful and renowned emperor who insults a meditating ascetic is cursed to die in seven days. Enveloping the audience into the urgency of a person who has the world at his fingertips but only seven days left to live, the production leads the audience to explore the mysteries of existence, as presented in one of India’s ancient epic texts.


The Discover India performance is visually stunning and engaging throughout. It uses contemporary theatre techniques to create a sense of intimacy with the audience. The production also includes some stand-alone pieces in the South Indian classical dance form known as Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam, possibly the oldest classical dance tradition in India, has a particular emphasis on facial expressions, rhythmic footwork, and elegant postures.

Their debut performance is on Sept 8th at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center at 7 pm. Their next show is on Sept 11th at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center at  6:30 pm. The proceeds from this show will be donated to the Feal Good Foundation, an organization that supports and advocates for those suffering from catastrophic health issues after being injured in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Additional venues include New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Pennsylvania State University, Rochester Fringe Festival, SUNY Buffalo, University of Maryland, and Ohio State University, among others.

In sum, this tour is not just a window into the culture of India but a testament to the unifying power of art. With 40 artists from 15 different countries, they are a perfect example of the harmony in diversity that can be created when we choose to transcend national and ethnic boundaries to create something beautiful.

For further details and to find a show near you, please visit or contact me at For tickets: