By Cam Lucadou-Wells
After nearly a year in ZOOM hibernation, there’s nothing like performing in front of a live audience.
Even face-to-face rehearsals have been refreshing for Dandenong singer-dancer Samrakshana Ram – who is taking part in the Earth Matters walking tour in Dandenong this month.
“To sit with other artists and work with them – and to not be on social media or ZOOM as we’ve lately adapted to – it was very refreshing.
“Until you’re there, you don’t realise how much you have missed it.”
Audiences also feeding on a menu of online concerts during Covid have a “crazy” pent-up hunger for live events, she says.
In that way, the lockdown showed the importance of the arts, she says.
Earth Matters is one of the main events of the South Asian-themed 2021 Sangam Festival.
Ms Ram says the audience can expect an “immersive” and “interesting contrast” of traditional Indian and Bollywood performance
Its audiences interact with a series of performances at Harmony Square, Drum Theatre and outside Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre.
Ms Ram performs at The Drum concert leg in A Raga Immersion.
She will glean from her Carnatic (South Indian) dance knowledge, improvising with other dancers and classic musicians to a spoken-word tale.
“It was great to let and go and be lost in those sounds – the liberty to just jam,” she said of the live rehearsal process.
“That’s the biggest aspect of much that I’ve missed – to jam and to see where the creative juices flow.”
Ms Ram learnt traditional dance and singing at the age of six. Her parents – who’d migrated from India – were determined to give her opportunities that they didn’t have.
“The arts were what kept them connected to their homeland.”
Those lessons have bloomed 20 years later, allowed her to work with musicians and groups of varied genres and nationalities.
Earth Matters also moves onto Harmony Square for interactive sessions with a movement and yoga artist and a Bollywood dance group.
The finale of eight solo dances is staged in the Walker Street Gallery car park.
Light vegetarian refreshments will be served on the tour.
In its third year, the Sangam Festival is a collaboration of celebrated and emerging artists from India and Melbourne.
Dandenong’s multicultural diversity made it a natural venue for the festival, Ms Ram says.
“The festival recognises we’re a generation living in a country with so much exposure to multiculturalism.”
The two-hour Earth Matters tour starts at 6pm on Saturday 27 February.
Limited spots are available for this outdoor theatre experience.
Tickets start at $15 for concession or Drum Members, or $50 for a family of two adults and two children.
Bookings: Drum Theatre Box Office on 8571 1666 or https://drum.greaterdandenong.vic.gov.au/drum/events/sangam-dandenong-earth-matters-walking-experience