The formal launch of Transforming Narratives took place on Thursday 21 March 2019 in an event at Birmingham Repertory Theatre hosted by BBC Asian Network’s Nadia Ali. In the first year of the programme, four artistic projects were commissioned that linked artists from Birmingham, Pakistan and Bangladesh:
Soul City Arts: Bangladesh to Birmingham
Bangladesh to Birmingham was an immersive dining experience that invited guests to experience the sounds, sights and flavours of Bangladesh as they enjoy an authentic three-course Bangladeshi meal, prepared by award-winning chef Munayam Khan. Guests were surrounded by film projections from in and around Dhaka, created by artist and curator Mohammed Ali with music performed live by Bangladeshi artists who were in Birmingham especially for this event.
Kalaboration: Sigh of the Musaafir
Sigh of the Musaafir, led by Birmingham-based Artistic Director Mukhtar Dar, was a cutting-edge international collaboration featuring artists from Pakistan and Birmingham. The peoples of the Indian subcontinent have been on an epic journey and this pilot production traced the paths taken across, through and beyond the boundaries of time and space by the peoples of Pakistan. The production at Birmingham Repertory Theatre featured Arif Lohar (award-winning singer – Lahore), Arieb Azhar (writer and singer – Karachi), Suhaee Abro (dancer and choreographer – Karachi), Nirmala Maghani (singer from Tharpakar desert, Pakistan), Azhar Hussain (qawwali singer – Birmingham) and Roach-Killa (rapper – Birmingham).
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: Music in Dialogue
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group linked classical musicians from the UK with those from Bangladesh and Pakistan for Music in Dialogue. In a first for the organisation, BCMG welcomed Gul Muhammad, an expert in Sarangi (a three stringed traditional South Asian fiddle); sitar player Turab Ali Hashmi, vocalist Ahsan Bari and Bamboo Flute performer Neel Kamrul for a period of artistic exchange, performances and workshops. Music in Dialogue was complemented by a series of workshops in Birmingham schools, where students created new sounds inspired by the musical traditions of Europe and South Asia. Image courtesy BCMG.
Sonia Sabri Company: Sahasa
Sonia Sabri Company teamed up with Bangladeshi dancer Arthy Ahmed from the Shadhona Cultural Circle in Dhaka, who travelled to England for the first time to perform Sahasa at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Birmingham-based Sonia Sabri Company is one of the leading contemporary South Asian dance and music companies in the UK and has an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context. Sahasa, which means The Brave, focuses on women’s stories, particularly from the Bengali community of the UK and cities in Bangladesh.