national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


(Vasantha Naidoo and Mrs Chinamma Naidoo - Dr TP Naidoo's daughter and widow - with Vusi Makhanya and Verushka Pather)

This year’s Indian Academy Heritage Series will be presented during May in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng…

The Indian Academy, founded in 1960, has presented its popular Heritage Series for the past 38 years. Featuring top classical musicians and dancers from India alongside South African performers of high quality, this project offers an entertaining and fascinating programme of songs, music and dance aimed at accommodating all linguistic groups and ages.

The Academy’s founder, Dr TP Naidoo, was called to rest in 2012. Dr Naidoo’s daughter, Vasantha Naidoo, has been the assistant director of the series and its programmes for many years. With the support of the Academy members, she promises that the 2013 Heritage Series will maintain the high standard as set in the past.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this standard is assured and the NLDTF has also funded a new element to the Series, A New Life, which aims to show that anyone with a disability can work alongside mainstream contemporary or classical performers.

Madhu Balakrishnan who hails from Tripunithura, Cochin, Kerala, will travel from India to head the Heritage Series programme. A graded artist for All India Radio and Doordarshan, he has performed with a host of major playback singers, and is a life member of the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA).

He performs regularly in the Swaralaya Dance & Music Festival held in Palakkad and the Chembai Sangeethootsavam in Guruvayur and appears in popular programmes on south Indian television channels such as Doordarshan, Kairali TV, Asianet and Amrita TV. He has also performed overseas in countries such as UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Canada and Singapore

Madhu shot to fame with the song Amme Amme from the film Vaalkannadi in 2002, which got him a Kerala Government State Award. He has sung around 150 Malayalam film songs, 65 Kannada film songs, 45 Telugu film songs and 80 Tamil film songs. He has sung almost 10,000 songs in devotional and other non-film albums.

A troupe of accomplished vocalists and musicians will accompany the principal artiste, Madhu Balakrishnan. South African dancers and musicians will be featured in the productions. The Heritage Series promises the usual visual feast of costumes, sets and lighting.

The Academy has always aimed to undertake projects that help the advancement of Indian culture. It is committed to reaching many young people of all cultures and race groups – both those participating and those in the audience.

Building on this philosophy, the Indian Academy’s A New Life, conceived and directed by Caroline Smart, was inspired by Dr T P Naidoo’s determination to overcome the immobility problems that beset him most of his adult life. Featuring award-winning top dancers/choreographers, Verushka Pather and Vusi Makhanya, the production is described as “a fun dance drama with a huge heart”. It will incorporate eight dancers from Pather’s troupe as well as eight of Makhanya’s students from Special Needs schools.

As The Andhra Maha Sabha of South Africa, a sister organization, will be holding the Swami Thyagaraja Music Festival this year, the Academy will not present this specialized Festival. However, Swami Thyagaraja the renowned composer and musician will be honoured at all concerts with songs in dedication to him. The Academy wishes the Andhra Maha Sabha well and offers them their full support.

The Heritage Series will take place in KZN on May 10 and in Gauteng on May 12 (venues and times to be confirmed) followed by the presentation in Durban of A New Life on May 18 at 17h00 and May 19 at 15h00 at Stable Theatre. For more information contact Caroline Smart on 082 892 3959 or e-mail:

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) is the main sponsor of The Heritage Series and “A New Life” with support from the National Arts Council and Toyota.