MUMBAI—At 17, twin sisters Riya and Sara Kapoor are forging a new path in the world of dance. By bringing together Jazz, African Beats and Indian Carnatic music, Riya and Sara created pieces that are at once respectfully traditional and daringly modern. East met West through their unique choreography, which brought together the Jazz of New York City – where the twins were born and raised – and the Bharatanatyam and Carnatic traditions of their ancestral India.
The sisters showcased their innovative style in “A Bridge Together,” which they performed at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival’s “Bridgefest,” presented by Grammy-award winner George Wein.
“These young women are tremendous,” said Wein, who has worked with musical luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. “The dances are very intricate and beautiful, but what I loved is how they brought jazz into these very traditional art forms. They’ve modernized the dances in a wonderful way while adding a delightfully different perspective to jazz music.”
The twins began training in traditional South Indian dance at age four and a half with renowned danseuse Guru Swati Bhise, receiving intensive instruction in the Bharatanatyam dance form – a dance over 2,000 years old that requires mastery of dance, music, theater, mime, iconography, geometry, and mathematics.
Riya’s and Sara’s presentation of the right chords, rhythms and choreography created a beautifully woven fabric of jazz, African, and Indian traditions that elegantly brought the past into an exciting new future.
Bridgefest is an offshoot of the Newport Jazz Festival, the major production of the Newport Festivals Foundation. Newport Festivals Foundation was founded by George Wein in 2010 to build and continue the legacies of the famed Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival. Under the auspices of the Foundation, the Festivals present performers who respect and honor jazz and folk music traditions, and at the same time reflect the changes in today's musical trends.
The Educational Initiatives of the Foundation aim to foster opportunity, inspire through exposure and facilitate the collection of resources needed for musicians, emerging and established, to celebrate and innovate.