The formal launch of the Maidstone Mela took place on July 14 with some 350 children joined by teachers and parents parading through the town centre led by Dhol Players, African Drummers and the Bloco Fogo Samba Group. The launch was made possible due to funding secured from Arts Council England.
The schools worked with our partners the renowned arts company Samesky on visual displays which the schools showcased during the parade. The schools involved were St Michael’s CE Junior, Archbishop Courtenay Primary, St Francis Primary, Hollingbourne Primary and West Borough.
The launch event parade started outside Marks and Spencer in Week Street, it then went down Fremlin Walk, into Earl Street, back up Week Street before finishing at Brenchley Gardens where the acts involved in the parade performed for a short time before the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr. Eric Hotson raised the Mela Flag to formally launch the celebrations and activities for the Mela in September.
Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Cohesion Plus said “The Mela launch here in Maidstone goes from strength to strength and it was so great to see so many people coming out and supporting the parade. I am very grateful for the supported provided by Arts Council England without which this event would not be able to happen. The feedback from schools has also been really positive”
Photos courtesy of Sarah Knight and Chris Brunt.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Maidstone Mela is the different dance forms performed at the event. The 2009 Mela saw many varieties of dance entertain audiences.
The Mandy Ellen Performing Arts School performed contemporary dances fusing soft piano melodies with hard edge street beats. The male and female dancers dressed in black dance clothes swayed on the stage with intrinsic dance moves and steps. Projecting modern forms of dance and street style moves in their act.
The dance school is based in Maidstone and encourages local participation. In 2008, the school formed Hip Hop crews and competed in their first regional competition and came 3rd. Some of the performers from the were lucky enough to reach the Live Semi Finals of Britains Got Talent on ITV1 in 2008 and 2009 which is such a fabulous achievement.
Bhangra dancing was performed on stage by Dhol and Dhaki Fusion featuring the 4×4 Dancers, who performed to music from Michael Jackson to traditional dhol beats of the Punjab. The Bhangra dancing was accompanied by numerous dhol players and a singer on stage singing folklore songs to the loud beats.
Bollywood dancing was performed by girls from Mahua Arts. They performed to Bollywood hits like ‘Nach Leh,’ ‘Duhai Hai Duhai’ and ‘Dhola Re’ from Devdas.
The Kent Indian Dance Academy dancer Priya performed a classical and traditional Bharatanatyam dance. Nepalese and Greek communities and even a Gothic Morris dance troop performed too.