Internationally acclaimed choreographer arrives in Derby

An internationally-acclaimed Indian dancer, choreographer and educator will visit the city this week to launch preparations for the climax performance at this September’s Derby Festé.

Dr Parul Shah is recognised as one of the leading exponents of classical and contemporary Indian dance – performing, working with artists and lecturing across the world on the artform.

She will hold a two-day workshop at Derby-based regional dance house Déda this Friday and Saturday (July 21 and 22) for five local dance artists to teach the traditional Garba dance.

Derby Festé coincides this year with the climax of the Navratri Festival. The nine-day Hindu festival, which is celebrated across the world, finishes on Friday September 29 and is even more significant this year as it coincides with the 70th anniversary celebrations of India’s independence.

The traditional Garba dance is performed as part of the Navratri Festival and originates from the state of Gujarat in India.

Many traditional Garbas are performed around a centrally lit lamp or a picture or statue of the Goddess Shakti and Festé’s interpretation of this will be ornate decoration and lighting suspended high over the Market Place.

The local artists will then hold workshops at community venues and schools in early September to teach hundreds of people of all ages the Garba steps which they will perform in Derby’s Market Place on Saturday September 30 as the final event of the two-day Derby Festé.

Community workshops will be held at Déda, AGE UK in Chaddesden, and at the Indian, West Indian and Bosnian community centres in the city.  Meanwhile pupils at Village, Bemrose, Beckett, Ashgate and Arboretum primary schools will perform a special children’s Garba.

The professional dancers and workshop participants – adorned in the colourful scarves traditionally worn for the occasion - will then encourage visitors to Derby Festé to join in the dance on the night.

Ruchita Shaikh is Executive Director of Derby visual arts organisation, Artcore, which is involved in planning Derby Festé.

She said: “The Garba is traditionally performed every night during the Navrati Festival with thousands of people dressing up in wonderfully colourful costumes.  It starts slowly and then gets faster and faster – creating a fantastic atmosphere and energy.

“In this – the 70th anniversary of Indian independence – I am delighted that Derby Festé is merging and celebrating different cultures to engage the wider community in this vibrant occasion.

Mrs Shaikh continued: “We are very honoured that Dr Shah has agreed to lead the choreography training for the Garba.

“She is the former Dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India and has worked with some of the top Indian dance artists across the world.

“She will teach our local dance artists the correct choreography who will then hold workshops in our local community and they will in turn encourage people on the night to join in.

“The Garba steps are easy to learn and it’s simply a question of following someone else until you have picked them up.

“The Market Place will look stunning for the Garba and I hope that everyone will join in.”

Saturday September 30 will start with the return of the popular free programme of street entertainment across the Cathedral Quarter with dance, street theatre, comedy and contemporary circus acts performing throughout the day at various locations.

Then late afternoon, the focus will be on South Asian style cultural celebrations and the crowds will gather for the ‘Colour of Time’ procession.


Choreographed by French company Artonik and involving students from the University of Derby and Derby College, ‘Colour of Time’ will be a rainbow eruption of coloured powder and dance.

The parade brings a stunning reinvention of the traditional Holi festival celebrated in India. Each year, people throw gulal powder in the air showing great joy and mirth, celebrating unity and an acceptance of diversity.

Dancers and musicians will move through the city centre in a choreographed parade towards Cathedral Green with the audience invited to join the finale - painting the sky with an explosion of Gulal powder.

The Garba in the Market Place will be surrounded by the Derby Night Market., organised by Sheena Holland, which was a popular addition to the Festé calendar last year and will again feature a wide range of arts, crafts and vintage stalls as well as food and drink stalls.

On the previous night (Friday September 29), Derby Festé will open at Bass’ Recreation Ground which will be transformed into ‘Festé World of Circus’ from late afternoon.

The ticketed event will feature a wide range of contemporary circus acts from across Europe with visitors also able to enjoy an array of food and drink from around the world in the Festé Food Village. 

The excitement will then build up to the showcase which will be a show-stopping aerial performance of ‘The Altitude Show’ by European artists Gorilla Circus.

Derby Festé 2017 is produced and presented by Derby LIVE, Déda, QUAD and Derby Theatre in association with the Without Walls Associate Touring Network, Artcore and Baby People. It is funded by Arts Council England and Derby City Council, with sponsorship from Cathedral Quarter, Intu Derby, Derby Riverlights, Park Farm Shopping Centre and the University of Derby.

stephen_croppedIMG_2615.JPGDerby Feste Artistic Lead Stephen Munn explained the theme of this year’s festival: “Every year we look to bring a new aspect into the Derby Festé programme and our aim this September is to showcase two different aspects of festival cultures in Europe and in South Asia.

“I and colleagues from the University of Derby and Artcore were lucky enough to be invited to see the Navrati Festival two years ago in Vadodara which was a truly spectacular event.

“I was amazed just how many people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds came out onto the streets to celebrate together and I wanted to replicate this as part of Festé.

“Just as the Navrati Festival started as a Hindu celebration in India and is now something that brings together all South Asian faiths.

“Similarly, Saturday evening’s entertainment at Festé will appeal to a wide range of people from across the whole region who want to enjoy and be part of live music, dance the colourful parade in a spectacle never before experienced before in Derby.”

For more information about the Derby Festé programme, please visit And for more information about workshop programme, please contact


Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665;

Derby Festé is produced and presented by Derby LIVE, Déda, QUAD and Derby Theatre in association with the Without Walls Associate Touring Network. It is funded by Arts Council England and Derby City Council, with sponsorship from Cathedral Quarter, Intu Derby, Derby Riverlights, Park Farm Shopping Centre and the University of Derby.

2017 marks the 11th appearance of Derby Feste in our city. Festé was founded in 2007 to mark the opening of Westfield, Derby. This was followed in September 2008 by a second Festé event to mark the launch of the Cultural Olympiad in the East Midlands and the opening of QUAD. In 2009, Derby Festé became a stand-alone festival for the East Midlands and since the first event, has had the ambition of developing into an annual event with funding from various public and private sector organisations.

In order to safeguard the future of Derby Festé, one of the performances taking place during the Festé weekend will be priced and ticketed – this will be the Friday night ‘Circus World’ event. All other events and performances will be free. See for more details.