(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Surati's HOLI HAI, the largest and longest-running Color Walk and Festival of Dance, Music and Colors celebrated its 15th year in Jersey City and Hoboken on Sunday, May 21st, the official culmination of the spring season. Hundreds of participants began their colorful journey at Pier A Park in Hoboken, where they participated in dance workshops and enjoyed performance workshops of Indian dance and African drums.
The revelers then participated in a color countdown and embarked on the Color Walk from Hoboken to Jersey City along the Hudson River, which involved beating drums, color throwing and lots of cheering and dancing. Upon arrival at Exchange Place in Jersey City, the partying continued into 8 pm in the evening with food vendors, sponsor and drink tasting stands, live dance and music performances, as well as a DJ. The Director of Cultural Affairs, Christine Goodman, attended the event and spoke about her long term association with this festival as well as with Surati Founder and Artistic Direcor Ms Rimli Roy. She also announced awards to community leaders and educators, Ms. Gracy Jolly - Director and Founder of Hudson Montessori School and Ms. Jennifer Bhathena - Member of the Millburn Board of Education. All in all, this festival and live event attracted more than 3000 people during the entire day.
Dance highlights include performances by Surati students: Ganavi Ravikiran, Mayuree Padmanathan and Kashvi Patidar, under instructor Hitanshi Patel, performed an invocatory Bharatnatyam dance piece. Additionally, Odissi classical dance "Vakratunda Mahakaya" was performed by Surati students: Elizabeth Johnson, Isha Tripathy, Roma Das, Ahana Dalmia, Diya Chaudhary, Elena Rupak, Supriti Garnaik, along with Surati company dancers and instructors, Harsha Harikumar and Hitanshi Patel. The performance was led by Artistic Director Rimli Roy.
An upbeat Bollywood dance medley was performed by Shayna Malhotra, Mackenna Munavalli, Alisha Desai, Reba Browne, Tara Nanda, Veena Vijayakumar, and Tanya Chauhan. This dance was choreographed by Reba Browne.
The festival presented classical Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dance solos by Harsha and Hitanshi, respectively, followed by Bharatnatyam duet Ardhanareeshwara, which is based on the concept of how the universe is balanced by feminine and masculine energies existing within the same form.
Contemporary dance was performed by Mackenna Munavalli.
One of the event’s well appreciated dances was a self-choreographed creative piece led by Rimli Roy based on the goddess of destruction Kali. This piece, named “Ulangini Naachey” was composed by India’s Nobel Laureate of literature Rabindranath Tagore, and was performed to commemorate the poet’s 162nd birth anniversary in May and also to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Other performers included Harsha, Hitanshi, Shayna and Mackenna.
Musical performances involved African Drummers, Abdoulaye Toure and Ngor Jallow, who both participated in the Color Walk from Hoboken as well as performed on stage in Jersey City. We also heard on violin, keyboard, and tabla by renowned senior citizen artists from India, Sujata Biswas and Arati Ghosh, and upcoming tabla performer, Manav Khurana.
The finale and important highlight of the event was the performance of vocalist, Sonia Mukherjee, who was specially brought in from Tampa, Florida for this festival. She was joined by artist JayB on stage who also performed some songs on track and was joined by Surati dancers, Shayna and Tanya, on stage. Apart from this Sonia also performed a few Indian semi-classical songs earlier that afternoon accompanied by tabla.
Additional performances included Bollywood semi-classical dance by Reba Browne; tabla solo and demo by Manav; classical Kathak and dance and demonstration by Maithili Patel; Dance workshop lead by Alisha Desai; jazz dance solo by Tanya Chauhan; and a Bhangra dance performance by Reba, Shayna, Tanya, Alisha, Veena, and Tara.
"Holi is the Indian festival of colors celebrating spring and the harvest season," said Rimli Roy, acclaimed visionary, artist, producer, choreographer, dancer and Artistic Director of Surati. "HOLI HAI has been created to EDU-TAIN the community-at-large on Indian art and culture and convey the universal messages of love, acceptance, peace and brotherhood, which is 'when everyone is colorful, no one is different!'"
HOLI HAI also helps raise funds for Surati's artistic programming throughout the year. This year, HOLI HAI is supported by New Jersey Travel and Tourism (visitnj.org), Hudson County Travel and Tourism (visithudson.org), Dance NYC, New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund, Horizon Blue Cross-Blue Shield of NJ, City of Jersey City, Jersey City Cultural Affairs and City of Hoboken.
Surati For Performing Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that educates and enriches communities globally through dance, music and theater rooted in Indian art, themes and culture. Based in Jersey City, New Jersey, Surati brings to the communities of the tri-state area and beyond a range of traditional and contemporary dance theater and original staged productions and musicals which the company has also extensively toured with. Surati also produces several cultural festivals throughout the year.
The Surati team, led by Founder and Artistic Director Rimli Roy, has performed at the United Nations, The Lincoln Center NY, The Kennedy Center (DC), Reichhold Center at the U.S Virgin Islands and the Alaska PAC (AK), to name a few. Surati and Roy’s work has been featured on CNN, Vogue, NY Daily News, Outlook India, among others.
This fall, Surati is planning to produce once again its Broadway-inspired theatrical piece, “Ramaavan - A Musical”, an original production conceptualized and created by Founder-Artistic Director Rimli Roy. The production is based on the literary masterpiece and greatest Indian epic “The Ramayana”, focused on bringing to life the story of prince Ram from India and King Ravan of Lanka, from an unbiased perspective, with a diverse cast and multitude of genres from across the globe. Surati debuted this show in Fall 2022 at the off-Broadway Cullum Theatre in NYC.