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Posted at 6:52 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Maximum India at the Kennedy Center: What to see this week

By Lavanya Ramanathan

The "Kaleidoscope" exhibition explores India through craft, projections of street scenes and this hanging "map" of India. (Lavanya Ramanathan -- The Washington Post)

So, we're a week into the Maximum India festival at the Kennedy Center, and so far, crowds have flocked to see tabla wizard Zakir Hussain make magic with the National Symphony Orchestra; fusion rockers Emergence and Soulmate redefine "Indian music"; pop singer Kailash Kher's party on the Millennium Stage; and Sunday night's jawdropping performance of Odissi by dance company Nrityagram.

So what to hit in week two?

"Ghazal Queen" Vatsala Mehra is revered among singers of the lovelorn Persian songs called ghazals. The smoky-voiced chanteuse also happens to live in the Washington area; she's one of the few local performers you will see in this truly international festival. Check her out Tuesday night.



The Monsoon Club has a spectacular hanging installation that will remind you of rain. It was designed by architect Kapil Gupta, who also designs nightclubs such as Mumbai's Blue Frog. (Lavanya Ramanathan -- The Washington Post)

Don't miss a chance to visit the Monsoon Club, the gorgeous, clubby space created just for intimate East-meets-West concerts. Designed by an architect who has brought incredible architecture to spaces such as Mumbai's Blue Frog club, it makes clubs like Love look like the Motel 6. On Thursday, tabla player Suphala -- a one-time protegee of Zakir Hussain's -- will bring her distinctive style to the club.

But not every musician hailing from India wails on the sitar. The boys of Parikrama wail like they're in a New Jersey hair metal band, circa 1988. The band, which cites the Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix as influences, plays the Millennium Stage on Friday night. Bring earplugs, kids. Afterward, head to the second floor to check out the exhibitions, including the "Treasures of the Gem Palace" show.


Better than rap bling: This necklace and headpiece intended for brides, in the "Treasures of the Gem Palace" exhibit, is embedded with 100,000 tiny, tiny diamonds. (Lavanya Ramanathan -- The Washington Post)

Finally, this week is full of great choices for dance fans: Shantala Shivalingappa, a well-known kuchipudi dancer, performs March 12 in the intimate Terrace Theater. Also that day, DJ Rekha (whose party in the Monsoon Club was one of the first events to sell out) will provide the beats for a free class in the fine art of bhangra. And after getting a peek at the slow, radiant slither of Odissi dance this past Sunday, I'm dying to see more. The dance form dates to the first century B.C. but is now rarely performed because it was effectively "lost" during British rule, with few carrying on its teachings. Monday's Millennium Stage performance by the Odissi Vision and Movement Centre will be a great chance to see it. (Note: Get there early, because unlike typical M-Stage shows, it'll be in the Eisenhower Theater.)

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | March 7, 2011; 6:52 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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