SAO PAOLO – The Brazilian music festival Rock in Rio this year will put the spotlight on Asia by showcasing musicians, dancers and folkloric spectacles from nations including China, India and Japan, its organizers said.
On Thursday, the organizers of Rock Street, the space that will become home to a vast array of Asian art at the Brazilian festival, gave a taster of the diverse and vibrant spectacles festival-goers would soon enjoy.
From Chinese dragon dances to a Japanese percussion extravaganza with drums that are thousands of years old and Bollywood dancers from India, the preview of the Asian street carnival showcased the sheer variety of art forms and traditions the Asian continent has to offer.
The selection process of artists and stage productions was the result of an extensive study of the myriad cultures the festival aims to represent at its 2019 edition, Marisa Menezes, artistic director of Rock Street, told EFE in an interview.
The Rock Street area is a space within the festival that spans 200 meters (656 feet) and takes the shape of a city avenue within the festival grounds.
This year, the street will visually come to life with Asian references such as the Great Wall of China, the black and white Matsumoto Castle from Japan and Hong Kong’s majestic and huge bronze Tian Tian Buddha.
As well as the extraordinary set that will be built especially for Rock Street, attendees will be plunged into Asia as performers dressed in traditional attire such as Japenese yukatas (kimonos), or people in cosplay, a performance art where participants dress up and adopt anime or videogame characters, interacting with audience members.
Spontaneity seems to be an important element of Rock Street, as participants can expect to be surprised with impromptu Bollywood flashmobs led by Bollywood Brazil, a colorful and atmospheric Indian wedding and a Chinese dragon and lion dance procession.
The aim of Rock Street, Menezes said, was for “people to dive into a culture they are not familiar with,” through this format that emulates “a road with street performers,” in order to create a space “that is radically different to any other environment in Rock in Rio.”
Rock Street also has a stage that will showcase well known and budding Asian musicians.
The Beijing-based “Mongolia Nine Treasures” will launch their Latin American live debut with their distinctive fusion of Mongolian folk and metal.
Also taking to the stage would be: South Korean blues band, “Billy Carter,” Taiwanese indie-rock group “No Party For Cao Dong,” and “Dakhabrakha,” a Ukrainian world music quartet that creates a melange of ethnic Ukrainian music with rhythms and melodies from around the world.
Rock in Rio, which this year runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6, has hosted Rock Street since 2011.
Each year organizers focus on a different part of the world with immersive set designs and live performances.
In 2011, festival-goers walked through the streets of New Orleans in the US.
In 2013, all things British came to the Brazilian city with a double-decker bus, Georgian houses and performers dressed as the Queen’s Guards.
In 2015, Brazil took center stage as the festival traveled to Las Vegas for a special US edition.
In the last edition, which took place two years ago, the roads of Rock Street came alive with African performers and the continent’s trademark colorful aesthetic.
In terms of the festival line-up for this year’s edition, so far organizers have confirmed the following acts: Iron Maiden, Pink, The Black Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Imagine Dragons and Bon Jovi, among others.
The first round of 198,000 advanced tickets sold out in a matter of hours.
Rock in Rio, which first launched in 1985 and is in its 19th edition, is considered one of the largest music festivals in the world.
The festival has held seven editions in Rio de Janeiro, eight in Lisbon (Portugal), three in Madrid (Spain) and one in Las Vegas.