IPAC Returns to Melbourne: A Celebration of Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam Dance

The Indian Performing Arts Convention (IPAC) returns to Melbourne from 18 – 26 May for a celebration of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance. Audiences can expect breathtaking performances, collaborations and insightful talks by acclaimed musicians and dancers from across India, Singapore, and Australia at Monash University Performing Arts Centres (MPAC).

With its wide ranging events and workshops, the nine-day convention is designed to be enjoyed by all, including audiences who are new to Indian music and dance. IPAC promises to inform, inspire and delight the senses with its world-class musicians and dancers. Program highlights include:

Presented by MPAC Three Bright Stars features leading lights of Indian classical arts, Dr. S Sowmya, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Rama Vaidhyanathan, coming together for the first time in a grand concert highlighting popular and rare compositions in celebration of Carnatic vocal and violin music and the Bharatanatyam dance form. The trio will be supported on mridangam by Australia’s legendary percussionist Ravi M Ravichandhira OAM. Three Bright Stars will premiere exclusively at IPAC Australian on Saturday 25 May.

Dr. S Sowmya is the recipient of several prestigious awards and titles having received the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title by Madras Music Academy in 2019 and the Isai Perarignar by the Tamil Isai Sangam in 2022. She was appointed by the Government of Tamil Nadu as Vice Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Dr J Jayalalithaa Music and Fine Arts University.

Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi (violinist) is a fifth-generation musician of the illustrious Lalgudi bani. As a violinist, she performs solo, duet and collaborates with artists across genres. With a sparkling four-decade-long journey in music, Vijayalakshmi has received a slew of awards and accolades, including the most prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi by The Music Academy.

Rama Vaidyanathan (dancer) is a leading exponent of Bharatanatyam, a popular classical dance form of India. She has trained intensively under the legendary dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy and the renowned Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. While deeply rooted in tradition, she has evolved her own individual style without forsaking the core principles of Bharatanatyam. Rama is a recipient of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the Govt of India.

IPAC Changes it for Future Generations

Music Showcase: Showcasing more Australian talent, this concert will also present the world premieres of two musical works developed under the guidance of another giant of Carnatic music, R.K. Shriramkumar. Australia’s aspiring Carnatic vocalists and violinists will reveal their new skills following an intensive four-day workshop series conducted by Dr Sowmya and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi. This concert will mark the first live performance of the emerging talents’ key learnings on Saturday 25 May.

Dance Showcase: Building on the excitement in 2022 and 2023, IPAC is delighted to showcase the work of Australia’s blossoming Bharatanatyam community. These young dancers have been inspired by the guidance of legendary dancers, including Rama Vaidyanathan and Bragha Bessell. This is their chance now to express the energy and excitement of a full week of workshops and masterclasses. MPAC is also proud to present a world premiere created and choreographed by emerging Melbourne-based star, Rukshikaa Elankumaran under the guidance and mentorship of the extraordinary dance icon, Priyadarsini Govind. This exciting new work involving sevendancers was developed as part of last year’s IPAC, during an intense one-week in-person conception phase with Priyadarsini, and further refined with online and in-person workshopping leading up to the premiere on Sunday 26 May.

Lecture Demonstrations

Christopher Gurusamy – Lecture Demonstration: In this demonstration by one of Australia’s leading Bharatanatyam dancers, Christopher Gurusamy explores the importance of finding one’s voice as an artist. He has received widespread critical acclaim including the Narasimhachari Youth Dance Award (Narada Gana Sabha), being named Best Dance of 2017 (New York Times), HCL Best Performer (Madras Music Academy) and was conferred the Kalavahini Fellowship for Choreography by leading dancer Malavika Sarukkai. Regarded as one of the frontrunners of his generation, Christopher will share from his vast body of work ranging from the foundational repertoire to his recent choreographic work on Saturday 18 May.

Mohanapriyan Thavarajah – Lecture Demonstration

Choreographer-dancer Mohanapriyan Thavarajah is recognised as one of the world’s young male dance artiste of Bharatanatyam. He will share his creative process in conceptualising and choreographing thematic Bharatanatyam solo works, including the process of research, music composition, choreography, costuming and lighting design, taking examples from his body of solo works on Sunday 19 May.

Rama Vaidyanathan – Lecture Demonstration: Bharatanatyam advocate, Rama Vaidyanathan, will be presenting insights into choreographing Sancharis (powerful miming of stories) for Pada Varnam, in which the legends of the specific temples (Kshetram) are incorporated as part of the narrative on Sunday 19 May.

Lecture demonstrations by Dr Sowmya, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Bragha Bessell are also on the IPAC program.

About IPAC

IPAC is a collaboration between MPAC, The Academy of Indian Music Australia (AIM), and Apsaras Arts, Singapore (Apsaras).

With over four decades of prolific international productions, Apsaras Arts has grown into a premier Indian dance company that has gained recognition in Indian dance-theatre, enjoying successful performances and following worldwide. IPAC is curated and convened by Aravinth Kumarasamy, a prominent figure in the international Indian arts community, and the recipient of the Cultural Medallion awarded by the President of the Republic of Singapore.

AIM cultivates and fosters Indian arts and culture in Australia, encouraging the resident musicians, dancers and music enthusiasts to get together and work on collaborative projects.

Monash University Performing Arts Centres (MPAC) is the public performing arts and cultural arm of Monash University. MPAC venues are vital to the cultural life of the University, and act as a window to Melbourne’s southeast community, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors to the university each year. MPAC seeks to connect, challenge, and excite its audiences through the commissioning of unique works, along with curating a program that brings the best of local, national and international performing artists to its stages. MPAC will host this convention at three of its venues; the 561-seat state-of-the-art proscenium arch theatre Alexander Theatre, the David Li Sound Gallery, and intimate 150-seat jazz club The Count’s; that hosts weekly gigs with a restaurant & bar.