The Dancing Maharajas is a promenade and processional performance with a life-size pedal-powered elephant (Festive Road’s Harminder), dancing Maharajas and musicians, inspired by the culture of Northern India.
This exciting partnership project is co-produced by Festive Road and BAME led Cohesion Plus, an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation, from North Kent. The project fuses together two distinct genres to create an exciting, artistically rich and engaging street performance, which can be presented in a variety of outdoor setting.
The show celebrates cultural diversity, bringing something different to all sectors of the community, and encouraging public engagement in arts and culture.
It involves and explores a number of art forms:
- Bhangra Folk Dance
- Mobile mechanical art
- Punjabi folk singing
- Dhol drumming
- Street theatre /outdoor arts
- Fusion of art and engineering
Inspired by the true story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the show captures the opulence, colour and vibrancy of the Sikh empire in India. Accompanied by Dhol drummers, the Maharaja enters the festival on his elephant alongside his royal entourage, wearing full authentic colourful costumes, interacting with members of the audience before bursting into a choreographed dance piece which the Maharaja’s elephant mimics with her trunk and ears. The piece is performed by British born Asian artists from migrant backgrounds, who present their own interpretation of traditional Bhangra Folk dance and music. The performance also includes live vocals - with a singer riding on the elephant’s platform.
The show is interactive and flexible - seamlessly fusing together music and movement of people and machine. The show also incorporates a walkabout element where the elephant, Maharaja and entourage mingle with audiences, take selfies and teach them some basic dance steps.
The project was funded by Arts Council England and Milton Keynes Council.