Watch, Listen, & Learn
It is said that Nataraja, god of dance, danced the world into being, that it was created through the vibrations of his drumbeat. So it is that classical dance in India captures the power, the mystical element of its origination, endlessly and thrillingly repeating that dance of life. Vital, beautiful, popular, the maximum India dance offerings will feature some of the most celebrated artists of Indian dance, whose choreography ranges from classical to folk and contemporary. The vigor and precision of martial art forms like chhau are counterpointed by the supple strength of bharatanatyam, the fluid grace of odissi and kuchipudi, the dazzling footwork of kathak. The highly stylized, masked dance-drama of Kathakali and the exuberant folk dances of Rajasthan are at either end of a spectrum of styles and dance aesthetics, performed by dancers who stretch and mold tradition, exploring movement and music, rhythm and space, in exciting new ways.up
"Some spice, please" may be the phrase that, above all, expresses an Indian identity—in images, theater, fashion, and certainly in sound. Spices might well characterize the music of India, reflecting its richness, diversity, and unmistakable flavor. From classical to contemporary, virtually every genre of music can be found in India today—each distinct, but in most cases, distinctly Indian—and its musical forms have had a profound influence outside the subcontinent, too. In its selection of musicians and performances, maximum India aims to capture that all-encompassing spirit of the music of India. From the two streams of Hindustani and Carnatic music, to their modern interpretations on the piano and cello; from ghazal and khayal to jazz musicians and rock bands who seamlessly fuse Indian musical elements and instruments into their musical language; from the desert music of Rajasthan to Indian pop; and a world premiere that brings together Indian and Western musical traditions, maximum India presents a tantalizing sampling of the music that shapes, and has been shaped by, India.up
India is one of the few countries in the world that can claim an indigenous drama, unaffected by foreign influence. Folk theater and dramatics can be traced to the second millennium BC; the Ramayana and Mahabharata may be considered the earliest recognized epic plays that were the inspiration not only for ancient Indian dramatists, as they are today, but also for playwrights, librettists, directors, and composers around the world. Indian storytelling through dramatic theater and puppetry has evolved over millennia, making for some of the most exciting plays and productions of our times. The maximum India theater series offers wide-ranging productions by the best of India's leading playwrights, actors, directors, and producers, both originally Indian as well as plays adapted from world literature in a completely new idiom. Plays will be performed in Hindi, Manipuri, and Hindustani with English surtitles, as well as in English. The enchantment of puppetry will, of course, be presented by string and hand puppets but will go far beyond them to life-size sculptural ones inhabited by the puppeteers. This extraordinary variety of forms and dramatic traditions will bring you a theatrical experience unlike any other.up
Literary activity in India has been exceptionally rich in the 21st century, in all genres, in all languages. Fiction and non-fiction; plays and poetry; autobiography and biography. Fiction into film, film into memoir; voices heard, or when unheard, found in translation. The spoken word, the word performed. In India or outside, diasporic or otherwise, writers have forged an idiom that is striking for its freshness and confident in its expression. Their writing has received critical and literary acclaim, won awards, been quoted and emulated, taught and analyzed. Its sheer output is staggering, its range impressive.
The literature segment of the maximum India festival focuses on the many aspects of creative writing in India as it poses the questions: How have writers responded to the paradoxical nature of Indian reality? How have they challenged, appropriated, wrestled with, delighted in or despaired of its bewildering, changeable character? Have they dealt with it imaginatively? Experimentally? Politically? It is a veritable, moveable literary feast!up
An India without films is simply unimaginable. Filmmaking there seems to be almost as spontaneous as breathing! If it isn't by now the largest film-producing country in the world, it's certainly the most diverse. Films are watched by millions of viewers, made in several languages and in every part of the country, each in a distinctive idiom and a particular regional flavor. Slickly flamboyant Bombay films, political films from the South, sophisticated Bengali films, Bollywood song-and-dance, the nuanced realism of the new wave, and a whole new crop of features, documentaries, and docudramas that are confidently hybrid and experimental represent a film culture that is inventive, buoyant and irrepressible.
The films selected for maximum India are an eclectic but wholly satisfying collection of movies and documentaries that highlight major landmarks in Indian filmmaking over the last 50 years, with a special focus on films that feature women—as symbols, as rebels, as survivors, or simply as themselves, in all their contradictory and wonderful complexity. These films have been made by some of the most outstanding directors in the industry and the roles portrayed by actresses of remarkable range, beauty, and accomplishment. Many of them will introduce their films and engage in discussions with the audience and among themselves, in a scintillating debate on the presence of women in Indian films.up
For maximum India, the grand halls of the Kennedy Center will be filled with images and objects that reflect the arts and aesthetics of India through the lens and imagination of its artists and craftspeople. From fans and saris—hand-crafted objects for everyday use that for 6,000 years have been the hallmark of Indian culture, heritage, and identity—to exquisite jewelry made from designs and with craftsmanship handed down since the time of the Maharajas and the Mughals, the festival's exhibitions will inspire wonder. On the international art scene today, Indian contemporary art, painting, sculpture, and site-specific work is a major presence and commands the attention of major museums, galleries, and collectors all over the world. For maximum India, visual art exhibitions will feature the work of the current generation of artists living and working in India, connected to every corner of the global village, creating a bold new art. The work of these artists looks back as it looks forward, forging new Indian identities that draw strength from the past.up
Indians are foodies by nature, you could say, but also by inclination! Indian cuisines defy definition because they are almost infinite in variety, taste, and styles of preparation. Each community, each region, each season, each festival, each ritual occasion has its own delicious and gastronomically distinct foods, and prescribed codes for feasting and fasting. Hundreds of fish, meat, and chicken delicacies in a country thought to be vegetarian. Literally thousands of ways to cook vegetables and lentils, fruits and even flowers, ripe or raw. Aromatic or therapeutic, decorated with beaten silver or saffron, crushed almonds or pistachios, there's everything from skewered and barbecued to steamed or soaked. Made to make mouths water and delight discerning palates, maximum India serves up maximum eating pleasure at the KC Café and the Roof Terrace Restaurant by inviting 12 master chefs from the four corners of the country to provide diners with a gastronomic journey through Indian cuisine seldom found in restaurants. Lectures, demonstrations, and tastings accompany this delectable opportunity to sample food from Kashmir to Kerala, from the City of Joy (Kolkata) to the City that Never Sleeps (Mumbai), from street fare to food from royal kitchens. In short, the best of India on a platter!up
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
The ICCR was founded in 1950 as an organization that would foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other nations and peoples. For maximum India, the ICCR, Dr. Karan Singh, President; the Embassy of India in Washington, DC, led by Her Excellency Meera Shankar, Ambassador of India to the United States; present a vibrant cross-section of the performing arts of India. The performers include some of the most respected names in Indian classical music, L. Subramaniam and Rajan & Sajan Misra; rock band Parikrama; classical and contemporary dance presentations from the Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali Troupe, Tanusree Shankar Dance Company, Natyalakshana, Odissi Vision & Movement Center, and Gulabo Sapera & Party; and a glimpse into Bollywood's quintessential song-and-dance routines in Ticket to Bollywood.up
About the festival logo
"India is an amalgamation of many, it is a singular address for the plural—from clothes, to cultures, to cuisines. One of the most apt personifications of India's diversity is in its language. It is a country that has more than 1,600 dialects spoken throughout its length and breadth. Diverse in every way—from their roots to their scripts—the only unifying factor of the languages is that they are all Indian. The maximum India logo is a coming together of all the languages that make India the diverse land that it is. It combines the many scripts India has; it showcases its oneness in its diversity. Fusing the scripts with a contemporary type style, the logo is traditional yet contemporary; just like India."
—Grandmother India Designup
Gifts, Mementos, and More
Upstairs in the Nations Gallery, browse beautiful hand-crafted jewelry from Gem Palace of Jaipur in the stylish lounge. In the Level A Gift Shop, you'll find a marketplace of exquisite Indian arts and crafts, from purses made from recycled vintage saris to paper goods from fair trade cooperatives, plus jewelry, textiles, chimes, leather goods, and more.