So, we're a week into the Maximum India festival at the Kennedy Center, and so far, crowds have flocked to
see tabla wizard Zakir Hussain make magic with the National Symphony Orchestra; fusion rockers Emergence and Soulmate redefine "Indian music"; pop singer Kailash Kher's party on the Millennium Stage; and Sunday night's jawdropping performance of Odissi by dance company Nrityagram.
So what to hit in week two?
"Ghazal Queen" Vatsala Mehra is revered among singers of the lovelorn Persian songs called ghazals. The smoky-voiced chanteuse also happens to live in the Washington area; she's one of the few local performers you will see in this truly international festival. Check her out Tuesday night.
Don't miss a chance to visit the Monsoon Club, the gorgeous, clubby space created just for intimate East-meets-West concerts. Designed by an architect who has brought incredible architecture to spaces such as Mumbai's Blue Frog club, it makes clubs like Love look like the Motel 6. On Thursday, tabla player Suphala -- a one-time protegee of Zakir Hussain's -- will bring her distinctive style to the club.
But not every musician hailing from India wails on the sitar. The boys of Parikrama wail like they're in a New Jersey hair metal band, circa 1988. The band, which cites the Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix as influences, plays the Millennium Stage on Friday night. Bring earplugs, kids. Afterward, head to the second floor to check out the exhibitions, including the "Treasures of the Gem Palace" show.
Finally, this week is full of great choices for dance fans: Shantala Shivalingappa, a well-known kuchipudi dancer, performs March 12 in the intimate Terrace Theater. Also that day, DJ Rekha (whose party in the Monsoon Club was one of the first events to sell out) will provide the beats for a free class in the fine art of bhangra. And after getting a peek at the slow, radiant slither of Odissi dance this past Sunday, I'm dying to see more. The dance form dates to the first century B.C. but is now rarely performed because it was effectively "lost" during British rule, with few carrying on its teachings. Monday's Millennium Stage performance by the Odissi Vision and Movement Centre will be a great chance to see it. (Note: Get there early, because unlike typical M-Stage shows, it'll be in the Eisenhower Theater.)