Derby is a large city in central England, about 120 miles north of London. It is quite close to Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham, and is home to numerous Indian families, especially from Gujarat, having settled there to work in the many industries that are situated here.
On every last Saturday in the month of September, DEDA (Derby Dance) organises Derby Feste, a celebratory event, free for the public, held at numerous outdoor and indoor venues where dancers, performers, circus artistes are invited to perform and entertain. It is part of the larger DEDA objective to interest more and more young persons in dance and performance arts.
In 2015, the DEDA team visited Vadodara to experience the city’s Navaratri and the Ravana-dahan performances and to evaluate whether they can work around these to be included in the Derby Feste. They visited all the local garbas – United Way, Fine Arts, Society garbas, sheri garbas and so on and then worked with the local Derby-based Artcore Charity (which has roots in Vadodara) to plan for a large garba for Derby Feste 2017.
Fortunately, the last Saturday of September 2017 also happens to be Dussehra, so Derby Feste with the large public garba, for children between 7 and 8 pm and for adults from 8.30 pm onwards, will take place at the Market Place in Derby onSeptember 30. To prepare for this event Artcore and DEDA worked with Dr. Parul Shah, former Head of Department of Dance, M S University.
She visited Derby in July 2017 and worked for three days with DEDA dancers, teaching them all the basic garba steps. These dancers then went out in the Derby community (Schools, Colleges, associations of people from West Indies, Middle East, South-east Asians and so on) and held dance practice sessions for interested persons. The local Gujarati Samaj and Hindu Temple members have also enthusiastically joined in.
The five DEDA dancers (Isobel Davis, Rosie Pillsworth, Danni Chell, Neema Gautama-Johal, Megan Smith) were trained by Dr. Parul Shah who choreographed a short 5-minute ‘stage’ garba which would be performed before the main event. Of these dancers, one could not continue as she got stuck in the USA in the aftermath of the hurricanes. So a Vadodara garba enthusiast,
Shweta Soni (who lives and works in Derby over the last few years) stepped in and worked hard with the girls to ultimately put together a four minute piece. The Derby Feste was informally flagged off on the evening of Wednesday, September 27, with a series of dance performances, led by the garba.
So for the first time, with English weather permitting, more than 500 men, women and children, from all communities, will be dancing in garba on Dussehra day, under the open sky, to the live music and singing provided by Rajesh Majithia of Rajkot courtesy of Swar Music, Leicester.