THE organisers of the Edinburgh Mela have promised this year’s event will be “revolutionary” in a bid to attract thousands more people and turn it into a major spectacle.
The multi-cultural event’s new director, Chris Purnell, who comes to the city this year after four years in charge of the London Mela, said it would be the “most ambitious line-up ever”.
Hundreds of artists from across Scotland and overseas will be entertaining up to 30,000 spectators in Leith Links.
Organisers said dance would be a major new focus, with the Mela World Dance Fest, supported by the Scottish Government’s EXPO fund, being the only dance-dedicated stage at any of the city’s summer festivals.
Programme highlights include the Scottish debut of Brooklyn-based dhol funk drummers, Red Baraat. There will also be appearances by bhangra stars Jassi Sidhu, Ramee and Tasha Tah.
Meanwhile, world-renowned Manchester theatre company, Walk The Plank, who deal in gigantic outdoor spectacles, are teaming up with Edinburgh’s own Dance Ihayami for an evening retelling of the legend of Rama and Sita, involving dance, fireworks and 12ft-high flaming puppets.
Mr Purnell said: “We really want to get people’s attention and are trying to appeal to people who have not been to the Mela before. We have a focus on dance this year. You have all the different types of dance coming from the diverse communities that have chosen to call Edinburgh home.
“We wanted to celebrate that but we’re also keen to facilitate collaboration between artists in the city and artists in the rest of Scotland and internationally.”
Organisers stressed the Mela would remain loyal to its community roots and said it would provide opportunities for a range of homegrown performers.
Rap outfit GTown Desi and Adura Onashile – the actor and dancer who appeared in the Traverse Theatre’s Olivier Award-winning Roadkill – are among the Scottish acts billed to appear.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festivals and events champion, said: “A big part of the Edinburgh Mela’s appeal is that it originates from, and represents, the city’s own diverse communities.”
The festival takes place between August 31 and September 2. For more details, visit www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk
LOTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Mela Main Stage: Performances from dhol funk drumming group Red Baraat, Soumik Datta, bhangra legends Jassi Sidhu, Char Avell and Gubi Sandhu, and Johnny Mirza, Edinburgh’s own rising bhangra star.
Mela World Dance Fest: Featuring a collaboration between award-winning actress Adura Onashile and arts group Bright Night International, and shows from the city’s breakdance world champion Tony Mills and Random Aspekts.
Mela Mix Stage : With Ghanaian and Japanese drumming, and a live DJ set with trumpets and vocals from Joseph Malik.
The Global Food Village: More than 100 stallholders offering tastes all over the world.
Mela Kidzone: Shows, workshops, gigs and games.