Dance to a different beat


Saturday evening taught us many things. That silence too holds within its hallowed space notes so profound, tunes so soulful. That light could be a performer by itself, drawing you into its brightness and shadows, making you part of the magic on stage.

Chi Udaka is an experience, an emotion. How do you explain it when varied cultures hold a conversation so sublime, so intense that the lines blur and they become a seamless whole?

Be it the graceful, energetic drummers from Australia-based Taikoz, who made the Japanese percussion their very own, the dancers from Lingalayam who stuck to tradition while exploring the possibilities of form and movement, or Riley Lee, whose soul-stirring performance on the shakuhachi showed you why he was the first non-Japanese grandmaster of the flute, each one of them worked in tandem to leave you amazed at the sheer dexterity and heart with which the show had been put together.

John Napier on the cello showcased the versatility of the instrument, which effortlessly swung between Indian and Western notes and Aruna Parthiban’s raga inflections lent the show an Indianness that appealed to most. John Cleworth’s electronica score was pre-recorded and played back.

Chi refers to the Earth, and Udaka to water; the show lived up to the name, rooted as it was in different cultures while traversing the fluid spaces between the two.

In previous interviews, show co-creators Ian Cleworth and Anandavalli have spoken of how the show is both spirited and serene at the same time, and how their endeavour has been to put together something captivating to the eye and ear. They stuck to their brief, and how!

The show opened with a glowing stage, with arches bearing a lone flickering lamp, courtesy set designer Bart Groen.

The graceful dancers worked within the confines of the stage to create a sense of space and limitless expanse. At some times, they leapt across the stage like lightning; at others, they were like graceful friezes from temple art.

The taiko artistes were poetry on stage, and enhanced the show with the ease with which they moved from one instrument to another, and the speed with which they played a drum steeped in Japanese culture.

When the nearly 75-minute-long show concluded, you could only think of Riley Lee and the quote of Rumi that propels him: ‘Remember the lips where the wind-breath originated, and let your note be clear. Don’t try to end it. Be your note.’

Chi Udaka was that note. Honest and clear.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 11:56:05 PM |

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