It is with a powerful sense of synchronicity that the artists with such diverse origins have met in the global metropolitan city of Lisbon, a city with a tradition of embracing and absorbing cultures from around the world.

Homegrown Lisboner Eshani has always been fascinated by oriental philosophies and unquenchable in her thirst for intercultural synergy. Knowing that Smirna had received this tradition of Dervishe practice through her Grandfather, Eshani challenged her to embark on the research of possible connections between Sufism and Vedic culture. The mutual passion and fluidity of the creative process that ensued were immediate. 

Ishtar Bakhtali was the first choice to create a soundscape to the performance. The singer moves on the jazz field and studies Carnatic music, with Indian origin and a name from Persia, where the first Sufis came from. T.L Mazumdar (India / Germany) was the musician invited to fully colour this vivid and deep performance, with his varied background and musical experience. The willingness of these artists to explore and cross-over different languages was the final ingredient to make them start this unprecedented adventure. Dilen and Fábio Gomes, from EKA [ unity ] team, have created the video projections, giving the performance the intemporal dimension that it needed. 

ESHANI LASYA

Portugal

Dancer, choreographer and visual artist, Eshani Lasya is Director of EKA [ dance company ] and co-founder of EKA [ unity ], Lisbon’s cutting edge non-profit organisation that is setting trends in the Portuguese capital’s alternative arts and culture scene. Expansive studies in Painting, Architecture, Music and Dance which started with Ballet and eventually branched out to Yoga, Meditation and the Indian Classical traditions - Bharata Natyam and Odissi. Her time spent in Portugal and London saw the birth of a unique amalgamation of these influences. Her background as a visual artist to boot (Painting, Lisbon Fine arts University) brings a distinct perspective to her personalised, signature style that is impossible to categorise. During the last years, she has been developing social work through the modality of Natyoga (co-authored by Dilen) uniting Dance, Yoga and Meditation, having worked with audiences of all ages from different solidarity institutions and schools. she gives regular classes and workshops of Dance and Natyoga, having performed internationally. She also works as a Producer and Event Organiser through EKA [ unity ], promoting the exchange of internacional artists. Her artistic research is currently focused in the conciliation of Ancestral and Contemporary art expressions, relating Sacred Geometry with visual composition and movement, involving new technologies. Exploring intercultural connections is another relevant aspect of her research. Notable performances: Festival Lisboa Mistura 2017; Festival InShadow 2015; Stuttgart Electronic Music Festival 2014; Boom Festival 2014; Museu do Oriente 2014; Festival de Sines 2012; Museu Berardo 2012; Igreja de São Roque 2012.

SMIRNA KULENOVIC

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Performer and visual artist, activist, curator and art historian. Her performance practice focuses on contemporary dance and whirling dervish dance, merging traditional forms of devotional movement with the political, activist and social challenges expressed in contemporary forms. Head curator of the Autonomous Contemporary Art Gallery “Brodac” in Sarajevo, founder and artistic coordinator of the Movement for integrating art in public spaces “Dobre Kote” in Sarajevo (BiH) that brings together more than 100 young artists, architects and volunteers. A photograph of one of her latest performances “Bosnian Girl 2” has recently been exhibited all over Europe and in the last month became a part of the permanent collection of Museums of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Skopje and Sarajevo. Notable collaborations with the international EU project for Contemporary Dance in Public Spaces “Shapers”, Festival of Contemporary Dance and Performance ZVRK, Royal Institute of Arts Stockholm, Sarajevo Film Festival, Dance Company Ex Nihilo (France) and Dance Company “Janis Brenner and Dancers” (New York).

ISHTAR BAKHTALI

Netherlands

Blending roles of singer and ‘soundmaker’, Ishtar’s usage of live-looping, vocal effects and miscellaneous instruments create a story-tellers language through songs inviting the listener on a journey where her mixed roots and early contact with two ancestral cultures provide a tapestry undeniably unique to herself. Lyricism and atmosphere are her primary focus in composition and arrangements revolving around her own writing and interpretations of the standards. Her involvement in styles as diverse as Latin, Jazz, Pop, Electronic and Indian music, studies in Vocal Jazz at the Conservatory of Maastricht and Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa, professional experiences in Amsterdam, and travels to India to deepen her relationship with Carnatic singing eventually led her to settle in Lisbon where her work as primary composer for the soundtrack for ‘Into The Light’ was initiated. Though currently a masters student in the Indian Department of Codarts in Rotterdam, Portugal continues to be a base for her involving regular projects and performances. An enthusiastic practicioner of the interdisciplinary arts too, her past projects include performances such as HOME(sick) and Arriving (with dancer Leila Bakhtali) and composing/performing for the Fashion Clash Festival. A Composer/Performer hat for the theater-piece ‘The Ordinary Life of Lilly Lesloyd’ and collaborations with award-winning artist Christina Nickel are also amongst her notable artistic pursuits. 

‘Ishtar Bakhtali’s remarkable soundtrack, performed live, is a haunting mixture of tongue clicks, rich, melancholy singing and cleverly looped sound effects’. KA BRADLEY on 

exeuntmagazine.com about the solo performance during ‘Resolutions Festival’

T.L. MAZUMDAR

India / Germany

‘’I’m ‘German’ of Indian origin who thinks in English and grew up on Arab food. There is no box for me. Or my music.’’

A natural nomad based between Germany, India, UK and more recently Lisbon, T.L. Mazumdar has been called 'a major talent' by Jack Douglas (Producer: Miles Davis/John Lennon/Aerosmith etc.—Quote on sonicbids.com) and ''among a handful of Indian musicians who are trying to break the Western stereo-type that they have to play sitars or tablas, or sing Bollywood and bhangra numbers'' (Time-Out Magazine). 

Nominated for German Jazz Awards ‘Bremer Jazzpreis 2012’ and ‘Future Sounds Jazz Award 2014’, the genre-bending Indian-German musician has been said to ‘’personify multiculturalism like few others do’’ by Rolling Stone Magazine. A career spanning a decade of international tours, collaborations with platinum artists and inter-disciplinary performances, his inclusion in India’s first official Anthology of Indian Electronic Artists (HUB-Indian Electronica Yearbook Project) refers to him as a ‘’pioneer’’.

''This is my life. Bringing worlds together. The dreamer and the nerd. The cerebral and intuitive. The skeptic and the believer. The lost and found.''

dance@ekaunity.com

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