Mela dancers to break out BMXs

BMX breakdancing, a big top and a marquee made of steel and shrink wrap are all heading for the Capital at this year's Mela.

The programme for the three-day multicultural festival was announced today. Now in its 16th year, the Mela will be held on Leith Links from September 2-4 with new director Steve Stenning at the helm, and a theme of Asian urban arts.

Attractions will include an outdoor show by Rotations, billed as a unique fusion of BMX breakdancing with contemporary dance.

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The Big Top Tent will host collaborations between Indian and Western musicians, while the Garden Stage will host everything from Bollywood dance to jam sessions.

Nepal's Ashesh and Nekhvam, a blues rock band with a blend of Eastern rhythms will also be appearing.

The 150th anniversary of Asia's first Nobel Prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore, will be celebrated with a musical performance called Gitanjali, created specially for the Mela. Other musical highlights include beat boxing from Bigg Taj and Danny Ladwa, and a performance by MOBO award winner Raghav.

Jaipur Kawa Circus will present the story of a Rajasthani travelling circus troupe, and there will be a range of free sporting activities.

The festival will also unveil a specially-commissioned pandal, an Indian-style temporary marquee.

The Mela pandal will be made from steel and shrink wrap, and covered in south Asian and Scottish cultural symbols designed and created by Bengali and Scottish artists.

Mr Stenning said: "I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Rotations, which is a BMX dance show that's playing two or three times a day.

"There's Kawa Circus, who have been to the Mela before and bring different things, last time they were here they brought rope walkers and pole climbers.

"The fashion show's a really interesting tie-up this year. Anna Freemantle, who is herself a supermodel, is bringing a creative twist to the fashion show.

"There's a real range of music, from samba, gospel, choir music, we've got Polish dance, we've got an exciting rock and blues band from Nepal."

Festival chair and city events champion, Councillor Steve Cardownie, added: "Year-on-year we receive fantastic support from local residents and businesses alike - this is crucial to the Mela's ongoing success. The Mela is proud to be working with the community on a year-round basis through its Shared Territories project and will continue to expand this.

"The programme offers something for everyone, from festival aficionados seeking world-class performances, to families who just want a fun day out with tasty Mela food.

"As ever, we are grateful to City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government for their continued support.My thanks also go to Lothian and Borders Police, The Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage, in helping bring together the children's programme."

Day passes are 2 in advance or 2.50 on the door, under-12s go free. Tickets are available from The Hub on Castlehill, from 0131-473 2000 or www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk.