Spellbound Opens Belfast Mela

The annual celebration of Indian arts and culture welcomes acclaimed outdoor production company Walk the Plank

After wowing a crowd of thousands in Derry~Londonderry with its co-production of The Return of Colmcille, creative outdoor specialists Walk the Plank will help to launch this year’s Belfast Mela celebrations on Saturday, August 24 in Botanic Gardens with its spectacular touring production Spellbound.

Spellbound takes its inspiration from one of the great ancient Indian epics, entitled Ramayana. It is a story of love, loyalty and friendship, told through puppetry and Bharatanatyam traditional dance, performed behind a giant screen, and punctuated by special effects and pyrotechnics.

Belfast Mela is an annual celebration of Indian arts and culture organised by ArtsEkta, and this year takes place from August 24 – 25. The opening day is free – though tickets should be booked online to avoid disappointment – and the second day is a paid event, with tickets £4 per adult, £12 for a family pass.

Spellbound will involve Northern Irish dancers through ArtsEkta’s South Asian Dance Academy initiative, formed in 2010 with masterclasses provided by Scotland’s Indian dance company Dance Ilhayami.

‘We are delighted and honoured to be working with Walk the Plank and Dance Ilhayami on this exciting production,' said Nisha Tandon, founder and director of ArtsEkta.

'As well as creating a new innovative offering for our audiences to enjoy and enhance their cultural understanding, this project has a strong training element helping to strengthen skills in our local dance sector. It is a fantastic chance to join in and launch the weekend of Mela celebrations.’

Walk the Plank has gained an international reputation as a world class creative outdoor production company, and its work on The Return of Colmcille – the flagship event of Derry~Londonderry's UK City of Culture year – was widely acclaimed.

The production was written by Frank Cottell-Boyce, who also wrote the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, and involved a huge, fire-breathing representation of the Lough Ness Monster swimming along the River Foyle. Watch video highlights below.

Nick Clarke, director of Walk the Plank, is looking forward to the sites, sounds of smells of the Belfast Mela when it comes to Botanic Gardens from August 24 – 25.

'Spellbound is such a great story, and told in such an unusual way, that it makes for a real must-see show. There’s fireworks, shadow play, music and dance. plus it’s free! If people have never been to the Mela before, this is a great way them to come along and see what it’s all about.'

Belfast Mela takes place in Botanic Gardens from August 24 – 25. Visit the Belfast Mela website to book tickets.