Erasing Borders – with the Dance Festival… and Some Food

This week, The List contains only two items. Why? Because they will fill your life and make it colorful, flavorful and absolutely fun! You really won’t need anything else this week. Lets discover them together…

Logo for the Indo-American Arts Council

The First Annual Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance has opened in NYC. It is your chance to see a diverse group of performers – some traditional Bharatanatyam and Kathak, some modern, some fusion – all performing in the same venue. This would be an absolutely impossible feat, were it not for the Indo-American Art Council and its Founding Member Aroon Shivdasani. Mrs. Shivdasani has managed to change the way New Yorkers view films – stay tuned for the Annual Mahindra IAAC Film Festival coming again in November – art, and literature – like the illustriously attended book launch for Salman Rushdie’s latest “The Enchantress of Florence”. Now, with the brilliant help of Battery Dance Company Director Jonathan Hollander, who also happens to be on the Board of the IAAC, and Dance Festival Director Prachi Dalal, Mrs. Shivdasani is changing the way New Yorkers watch dance. Last night’s performance, at the Ailey Citigroup Theater on 55th and 9th Avenue, was absolutely mesmerizing and I walked away feeling joyous about a world that can actually contain this much talent. Of course, I am eagerly going back for more tonight. I suggest that you do the same, since once this is all over – with tonight’s performance and a fantastic gala to follow it – you will have to travel far and wide to see even a tenth of all the beauty, talent and grace featured in this festival. Don’t delay, buy your tickets and join me for all the fun, on Thursday, August 21st at 7.30!

Dancer Parul Shah - one of the performers at the Erasing Borders Indian Dance Festival

I recently tried out Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s latest endeavor, the African fusion Merkato 55. I must admit that I kept putting this experience off, as I had come across a couple of unflattering reviews. Not from well known food critics, but the kind you get at or the online Zagat site. Turns out the Meatpacking District restaurant is absolutely amazing and the food is the most memorable I have had in a long time. The atmosphere is serene and from the moment one walks in, all troubles are left at the door. There is outdoor seating for the summer, and a cozy, well decorated dining room inside, for those chilly days and nights to come, when a good Red Stripe beer and a spicy meal will be so welcomed.

Cover of Chef Samuelsson’s book “The Soul of a New Cuisine”

Start out with their Kidogo plate, which includes African breads, dips and chutneys to delight the senses. I then moved on to the Sweet Potato Tamale, while my dining partner had the Cod, perfectly cooked and just spicy enough to entice but not frighten. There is meat, chicken and even shrimp – these cooked to perfection in a Piri Piri sauce. To finish, I must insist on some Smoked Dark Chocolate ice cream and an Amarula Ice Cream Sandwich. AMAZING! And just in case you need any more convincing, check out the Merkato 55 website, which is a feast for the visual and audio senses as well. When you are finished with that – and still need some more – go out and buy a copy of his terrific book “The Soul of a New Cuisine”, a journey of discovery into African cooking and the Chef’s own roots.

Top two images courtesy of Peepul PR.

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