All the city is a stage

Funding remains a crucial aspect, with partners like the American Center playing a key role in supporting the festival.
All the city is a stage

CHENNAI: Visualise yourself at Chennai Central Station, and suddenly, you witness a mesmerising Bharatanatyam performance unfolding before your eyes. How cool would that be? This is the spirit of Mixtura Vizha, an annual cultural festival organised by SNS Arts Development Consultancy, that transforms everyday public spaces in Chennai into vibrant stages for diverse performances. “We wanted to revive Chennai’s public spaces by bringing in live performances, especially in places like parks, metro stations, and central station where there’s a lot of footfall,” says Shreya Nagarajan Singh, founder of SNS Arts Development Consultancy.

Over the past three years, the festival has grown significantly. This year, it boasts ten shows, including international acts for the first time. The lineup features Aashray Harishankar from California, DJ Greg from France, and Grammy-nominated artiste Pavithra Chari, among others.

The festival’s venues are carefully chosen for their accessibility and suitability for performances. Collaborations with the Greater Chennai Corporation and CMRL have been crucial in this regard. The festival’s partnerships have grown stronger, and the demand for Mixtura Vizha has increased, with artistes and the public eagerly anticipating the event each year.

While the venues and potential performances are announced, the specific lineup for each venue remains undisclosed until the event. This ensures that each venue offers a mixture of genres, from opera and Bharatanatyam to DJ sets and Tamil plays. “The surprise element is something that people really enjoy. It keeps the festival exciting,” she adds.

This year’s festival includes new venues like Quest in Besant Nagar and Thiru Vi Ka Park in Shenoy Nagar. Regular venues like Chennai Central Station continue to host performances, drawing large crowds. Shreya says, “Performing in public spaces is not easy because you don’t know what kind of audience you’ll get. But that’s what makes it exciting.”

The festival’s impact goes beyond entertainment. Last year, Preethi Bharadwaj’s feminist dance-theatre piece, ‘Me and My Trash,’ resonated deeply with the cleaning workers at the venue, who were inspired by her work and connected with her afterwards. Similarly, at the end of a Thisram band performance at Chennai Central Station, a group of coolies eagerly took selfies with the band members, marking a heartwarming moment of connection.

Shreya hopes to increase the number of venues, bring in more international talent, and feature more artistes from south India. “We have a lot of interest from the Tamil Nadu government to include more classical and folk performances from both South and North India,” she says. Funding remains a crucial aspect, with partners like the American Center playing a key role in supporting the festival.

At its core, Mixtura Vizha aims to rekindle the joy of live performances. “Most people who like performing arts don’t have the time or energy to go to a venue and listen to it. By bringing performances to public spaces, we make it accessible to everyone,” Shreya says. As Mixtura Vizha continues to grow, it remains a beacon of cultural diversity and accessibility in Chennai. Shreya reflects on the organic connections formed between artistes and audiences, saying, “It’s heartwarming to see people interact with the artistes and talk to them about their work. That’s what makes it special.”

Mixtura Vizha will be held at all the three venues on June 28, 5 pm to 7.30 pm

The featured artistes and performances this year

  • Anbu Kalai Kuzhu (Kanchipuram) – Periya Melam

  • Subin Sebastian and Gerardo Sanchez Lara –Opera in Chennai

  • Aashray Harishankar – Contemporary Carnatic and Jazz Ensemble

  • Audiotroops – The Band

  • The Sunshine Orchestra Brass Ensemble – Hot Brass

  • Pavithra Chari featuring Alvin Presley – Chitrahaar Live

  • Key Figures from the Chennai Arts Community – Fashion Show by Purushu Arie

  • Students of Aniruddha Knight and The Balasaraswati Institute – Bharatanatyam

  • Thedal Theatre Arts – Tamil Play: Eppo Varuvaro

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The New Indian Express