DJ Rekha. Photo by Nisha Sondhe.

Downtown Pittsburgh Cultural District

September 25
5:30 – 10 p.m.

Come Friday night, the downtown Cultural District will teem with a triple-header of programming thanks to the upcoming India in Focus Festival, the quarterly Gallery Crawl and the after-hours Night Market. Here’s a rundown of not-to-miss highlights:

Exploring India

Nandini Valli Muthiah.

For the next six weeks, you don’t have to trek 8,000 miles to experience some of the sights and sounds of India. After presenting festivals focused on places around the globe—from the Netherlands to Australia—The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust now turns its cultural compass to India.

Running from September 25th through November 9th—India In Focus takes a unique look at an impressive selection of classical and contemporary music, dance, theater and visual art created in and influenced by the Republic of India. Bringing India into a regional focus and exploring the global influence of Indian art and culture, the multi-disciplinary and multi-format festival will feature a large-scale community event, 10 performances and numerous exhibitions—including works that have never been seen in the U.S.

Don’t miss Friday’s exciting kick-off when India in Focus takes the party outdoors. At the helm of the free large-scale street party will be DJ Rekha—who has appeared everywhere from edgy NYC clubs to the White House. Born in London, Rekha’s popular parties showcase her distinct blend of classic Bhangra, Bollywood sounds and contemporary electronic dance music.

India in Focus will continue with featured performances by classical tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, Nrityagrim Dance Ensemble, Bollywood dance troupe Mystic India, Aakash Odedra, Indian Ink Theatre Company and others. Participating visual artists include Hetain Patel, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Shilpa Gupta, Surabhi Saraf, Gauri Gill and many others.

Culture Crawling

The Humanae project. Photo courtesy of Angelica Dass in conjunction with the Magenta Foundation.

The festival’s kick-off celebration takes place in conjunction with the fall installment of the Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District. The rotating lineup of thought-provoking and award-winning work by local, national and international artists is accompanied by a variety of music, dance and film happenings, hands-on activities and special events. Did we mention that it’s all free?

During Friday’s Crawl, don’t miss the special unveiling of Humanæ/I AM AUGUST, a new exhibition for the windows of the August Wilson Center created by Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass. Incorporating a collage of portraits of 200-plus Pittsburghers, the project will also include a collection of community stories, performances and events celebrating the legacy of acclaimed playwright and Pittsburgh native, August Wilson. Dass’ ongoing Humanæ project has featured 2,500 photos in public spaces around the world, including Madrid, Lagos, Paris and Chicago.

Shopping under the stars

Night Market.

Stay late and shop en plein air at the next edition of the Night Market. Setting up shop from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the corner of 8th St. and Penn Ave., the Night Market boasts 30+ vendors peddling arts, crafts and culinary delights, including jewelry, apparel, photography, cocktails, home decor and much more.

Don’t miss guest DJ sets by Steve Hackman, creative director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s new FUSE series—who will spin a mash-up of symphonic Indian music—along with catchy Bollywood and Bhangra tunes served up by DJ Soy Sos. Throughout the market, the Sankurti School of Indiana Dance and Music will entertain crowds with pop-up performances of traditional Indian dance.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...