Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A 50 Rupee Ticket to a Perfect Dream

Another review written for Asia dance Channel. I had fun meeting the cast and talking to them. They were super bubbly people. Oh yeah the best part I got to see Zainal Abidin one of my fav local singers. ;p

The Merchants of Bollywood
14 July 2009

Istana Budaya

Article and Photography by Visithra Manikam

A 50 Rupee Ticket to a Perfect Dream - Bollywood

“I will not get off the stage without getting the audience to dance,” vowed Carol Furtando, the lead actress during the media sneak preview of The Merchants of Bollywood.


She did exactly that at the premier show on 14 July 2009. By the end of the show, the audience, were up on their feet clapping and moving to the beat of the songs.

Bursting with colours, vibrant costumes and energetic moves, the cast of The Merchants of Bollywood dazzled the audience with their showmanship. The five-year internationally acclaimed show made its debut in Asia, performing for the first time to an audience that was familiar with the world of Bollywood.

The Merchants Of Bollywood , originally uploaded by visithra.

Based on the true story of the Merchant family, it tells the tale of the late Shri Hiralal, the legendary choreographer of classic Bollywood films in the 50s and 60s, having differences in opinion with his granddaughter, Vaibhavi Merchant who is currently one of the top young choreographers in Bollywood.


Vaibhavi, who lent her family story to producer Mark Brady and Writer/Director Toby Gaugh, is also the choreographer of the dazzling dance pieces. She has won the Indian national award for her choreography for Hum Dil De CHuke Sanam as well as the American Chereographer award for Oscar nominated movie Lagaan. She has also choreographed for Swades, Devdas and Dhoom 2.

The story of Ayesha Merchant (played by Carol Furtado), whose family are the custodians of the ancient Kathak dance, begins in the deserts of Rajashtan. The grandaughter of Shantilal (Chander Khanna), the once famous choreographer of Bollywood’s golden era, rebels and leaves home to pursue her dream in Bollywood against the wishes of Shantilal who forbids Ayesha as he feels that “Bollywood is no place for decent woman!”

Hilarious Energetic dance Swept of their feets

Soon Ayesha is crowned the Queen of romance in Bollywood but the hollowness of Masala movies leaves her earning for her roots and her grandfather. A flashback of her grandfathers’ golden dancing era further pushes her towards the golden dunes of Rajashtan. She returns home to make peace with her grandfather. She reconciles with her childhood sweetheart Uday (Dipender Singh) and resolves to continue their family tradition but in her own way. Ayesha soon returns to Bollywood to present the industry with dance that is true to her heart and wins the industry over.

Earlier in the day Carol had dubbed the musical “like watching a Hindi Film on stage.”

True to her words, about 40 dancers and actors and 20 behind the scene crew magically went through 1200 costume and 2500 jewellery changes in the 90 minute musical. The cast provided little bits of comedy, dance, grandeur, joy, love, sorrow and more. Each dance item had at least 12 dancers not including the leads,

Bubbly Union Laughter Dazzling dance

The dancers were in a class of their own, every step and formation was done with such precision it was hard to spot mistakes. Their effortless dancing may have seemed easy, but trust me they aren’t. Each movement and step had been choreographed to fit the era of its music and yet breathe a fresh perspective to the song. Every time the dancers returned they would be decked in grand costumes that were so different from the previous presentations, you wondered what magic was happening in the backstage. Bangles, necklace, medallions, earrings, anklets, footwear, you name it and they changed it.

My one gripe with the choreography would be the adding of turntable moves by Uday in the first dance which was supposed to be an authentic showcase of Kathak. While it created interest it doesn’t gel with the story and Shantilal’s insistence of keeping Kathak true to its original moves.

The depiction of Bollywood Masala movies had the audience splitting in laughter with their antics. The injunction of comedy at several points of the musical were a welcome addition and break between the dances.

Rocking the stage Shake those hips ;p

Ayesha’s return to Rajashtan in the second half provides a glimpse of traditional dances to the audience. Bharathanatyam, Manipuri, Kathak, traditional folk dance, Horse dance (Ghode Modni or Kuthurai Atham) are some of the dance forms shown.

Just before the wedding dance, the audience is introduced to the Serendip Drummers. The director has definitely taken a poetic license here as the dance form is native of Sri Lanka. Nevertheless they were a welcome addition to the numerous dance repertoires’ of the evening and proved that traditional dance can still enchant audiences. The twirling drummers and dancer enchanted the audience with their moves. They took turns somersaulting across the stage bringing us to wonder, were they the inspiration behind hip hop dancers?


The wedding dance performance had the stage blazing in traditional Rajasthan costumes in red and blue. The dancers again proved their mettle and strength when in a seemingly effortless move; the male dancers lifted the female dancers in a circle and danced away.


Like all Bollywood movies, there seemed to be a believable chemistry between the two lead characters. At one point during their wedding dance, Uday holds Ayesha for a second longer sending hearts fluttering across the room.

Ayesha’s winning dance choreography in the story, seemed a perfect marriage between Kathak and modern dance. The musical ends with a repeat of Sabha Sabha and the ever famous It’s Time to Disco which has the audience up on their feet.

Including various hit songs from the 50’s to the 2000’s the musical’s music selection was carefully thought out. In addition, brothers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant (not related to Vaibhavi) provided tantalising songs and background music to the musical’s score. Some of the composers’ previous works include the scores for Bhoot and Dhoom.

Chander Khanna who plays the grandfather Shantilal, had the unique privilege of working with both Hiralal and Vaibhavi in his career that spanned over 50 years. An interesting note on Chander, his directorial debut Hum Bachche Hindustan Ke became India’s official entry to the Moscow film festival for the children’s film category. Chander’s years of experience were evident in his portrayal of the determined and stubborn Shantilal. The show is narrated by Denzil Smith who has played an important role in the development of theatre in English in Mumbai.

Ayesha’s love interest Uday was played by Dipender Singh. Having trained in Jazz and street style hip-hop in Los Angeles, the dancer and choreographer has appeared in films like Dhoom, Musafir and Hum Tum. Throughout the performance, he astonished the audience with his jumps, turntables and dance moves. The energetic star was akin to the energizer bunny, always on his feet.

Shruthi Merchant, the sister of Vaibhavi and the assistant choreographer for the production was available to answer our questions. Bubbly in personality, she is trained in the traditional Indian dances Kathak, Bharathanatyam and Odissi.

“The Merchants of Bollywood reflects the continuous growth of Bollywood, hence the show is regularly updated with new songs and choreography so that new audiences can truly understand Bollywood.”

“I cannot imagine a life without dance or music. Having family in the troupe has definitely added to the experience of travelling with the production for the last three years. It’s thrilling to watch the audience who has never been exposed to Bollywood films get on their chairs and dance with us.”

Shruthi is currently working on a second musical where she hopes to introduce traditional dances and music with a touch of modern spice. If the stars are aligned right and she heeds her sister’s words, we may even see the emergence of an academy in the near future.

“My addition to the musical is a strange story,” began Carol Furtando the vivacious lead actress when I quizzed her on how she had joined the production.

“I had been contemplating moving into a costume designer role away from dancing when a friend tells me he had recommended me for this musical and I was due for an audition. I was shocked and didn’t want to accept but decided to humour him. At the audition they spoke to me and then handed me a script to recite. I was unprepared and the next thing I know we were discussing my salary!”

Carol has toured around the world for Asha Boshle, Adnan Sami, AR Rahman, Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik among others. Carol’s performance in the musical was top notch, expressive and vibrant, her lively personality beamed on stage.

“Though I had been dancing for various productions, I was initially worried as I had no formal dance training and I was to dance Kathak! Thanks to the training I’ve now performed the role more than 700 times.”

“It’s been an exciting ride I’ve been privileged to partake. I view myself as an ambassador to India, educating people on India through the musical. It’s an exhilarating cultural exchange.”

“Dance is very much a part of me and it’s as natural as breathing. Had I not humoured my friend that day, I would still be in some part of the industry breathing music and dance.”

As Carol points out in her dialogue “Movies’ are a mere 50 rupee ticket to a perfect dream!” and indeed the fantasy dream world of Bollywood movies were brought to life on the stages of Istana Budaya.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've started writing for Asia Dance Channel one of the first Online dance magazines that focuses solely on dance. We review performances across the country for the magazine. My first assignment was a indian dance performance in Klang.

On another note I'm dancing in the Short+Sweet Dance Festival in KLPAC from 29th - 1st August 2009 at KLPAC. I'm attempting a dance chereography that I've always wanted to explore - dancing Bharatanatyam to a western tune. You can find out more here.

Also V-Eyez has a new look ;)

Here's the first article and a link to the page on Asia Dance Channel. Will post the other article tomorrow with pictures.

Aradhana: A Dance Offering
4 July 2009
Wisma Lourdes, Klang

Review and Photography by Visithra Manikam


Aradhana, which means “offering,” was presented by the Shiva Sree Tachanamoorthy Shiva Thiyana Gurukulam at Wisma Lourdes in Klang, in aid of five-year-old John Paul Bartholomew who was diagnosed as suffering from a variant of Dandy Walker Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. The organizers announced that they had achieved their target of RM 10,000 that will be channeled to help the young boy.

The evening saw the presentation of two distinct styles of Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam and Odissi. Originating from Tamilnadu, India, Bharatanatyam is made off crisp lines and geometrical shapes where the dancer emotes to rhythm and music. Odissi which originates from Orissa instead focuses on laasyam or the more feminine side of dance. Odissi’s emphasis on curves is reflected throughout each performance.

Three students from Shamala Bharatakalalayam performed first. The teacher Mrs Shamala Kandiah is a disciple of Padma Shri Adyar K. Lakshman.

The first piece entitled Nadesa Gauthuvam in praise of Lord Shiva was performed by a young girl, only eight years old. While she lacked experience and technical prowess at this early stage, the she charmed the audience with her smile and charm.

This was followed by the popular Boh Shambo choreographed by Vignavinashini Mahaeswarren. The brilliant choreography in praise of Lord Shiva was marred by the young dancer’s inexperience and lackluster attitude. While we could forgive her for stopping once during her short performance, it’s a bit hard to ignore three. But more important than the need to improve the quality of her performance, is the for her to improve her performance attitude. Vignavinashini showed promise with her clean lines but needs to work on her rhythm and expression as well.

I was quite impressed with the next dancer Sharmila, with her presentation of the Ootukadu piece Asainthadum Mayil. The song which describes the peacock prince Lord Muruga again showcased engaging choreography which was well executed by Sharmila. Her agility, rhythmic finishing, expressions and her focus on the little details kept the audience enthralled in this fast-paced piece.

The Madhura Academy School of Dance and Music started the next half of the performance with the first Odissi piece Mangalacharanam by guest artiste Parveen Nair and sisters Vathana and Vanitha Chandrashekaran. Paying homage to Lord Jagannath, the elements and the gurus, the Managalacharanam marks the beginning of a traditional Odissi repertoire. The three dancers complemented each other well and seemed at ease as a trio.

Namaskar Intertwined

I spotted an uprising star in the next performance called Sthayi or a pure dance item where the steps and hand gestures are set to rhythmic phrases. Trishna Sacharaseelan outshone her fellow dancers with her grace and expression. Dancing with seven girls of different ages and experience, she shined and kept drawing my attention back to her even with the young dancers around. The dance began with the interchanging of the young dancers with the senior dancers. Though inexperienced and new, the little ones danced in rhythm to the songs and maintained their lines throughout their performance bewitching the audience with their cuteness.

A dancer Odissi

After a short break the performance continued with the Pallavi which is the most elaborate and longest piece in the Odissi repertoire. Having watched Vathana perform during her years at the Temple of Fine Arts, I was impressed with her extra confidence and renewed energy. She seemed more relaxed and enchanting than ever before. Parveen excelled in his delivery, it was a joy to watch him perform and despite the length of the dance he made it seem effortless. Again the dancers were in chemistry with each other. The duo left the audience wanting more.

The audience was then treated to the Abhinaya or expressive dance section which began with Moha Mohi Krishna. Describing the gopika’s (young maidens) love for Lord Krishna, the dancers expressed their love, affection and even obsession of Krishna. Each dancer excelled in their adoration for Krishna. Again my eyes were drawn to Trishna. Even when she was not the centre of attention and sitting by the side, she would still be emoting to the words of the Orissa poem. I hope to see more of this young dancer in the future.

Hari Riha another expressive number began with a little Krishna leading a party of gopikas in a circle of laughter and fun. As they left the stage after their merry-go-round escapade, Vathana and Parveen entered as the divine lovers Radha and Krishna. Their on-stage romance sent the audiences’ hearts fluttering in joy as they glided across the stage in character.

The finale piece proved to be the best piece of the night, the Moksha called Mahakali Dhyana. The dancers blazed the stage in black, red and yellow in fast-moving steps depicting the goddess Kali. The energetic dance drew the applause of the audience ending the evening on a high note.

The nights’ performance definitely entertained the audience. The lighting was inconsistent throughout the evening and the event could do with a better with more attention paid to this element. The recorded music from both styles was pleasing to the ears. I do hope that Mathurya Academy will embark into their own choreographing in their future presentations as the evening’s performance was credited to Guru Gajendra Kumar Panda, Dr Chandrabanu and Geetha Shankaran Lam of the Temple of Fine Arts.

Nevertheless it was truly an evening celebrating dance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amazing ;)

Sorry I haven't really been writing. Actually I have I'm waiting for those to be published before I blog those. So in the meantime watch this wedding dance entrance.

I promise you - you will cry! ;p

link courtesy twitter friends ;) oh i'm on twitter @visithra

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jungle Love

A leopard looks after a baby baboon - really touching scene. Courtesy pambo80.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 5 things I hate about Twitter

The 5 things I hate about Twitter

  • There’s only space for 140 characters!
  • People conveniently delete your name when they RT your tweet – there goes the whole giving credit to the author
  • They add you and then ignore you when you tweet back – coz its all about the numbers!
  • People chain follow others – everytime 1 person adds you another 5 follow suit – but no one reacts!
  • You wanna untweet people coz they’re super boring and taking too much space but you can’t

The 5 things I love about Twitter

  • 140 characters keep you super creative
  • Information is super fast
  • Talking to your self is now cool
  • Trending topics can be super hilarious
  • It’s entertaining to watch people’s lives and interests unfold a tweet at a time

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food Fight MJ's style

This should chase the Monday blues away - MJ in a food fight. Still missing you michael.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Youtube Day

Well I seem to be having more of these nowadays.

I was browsing Johnmayer's tweet when I found a link to Kennedy Dave's tribute for MJ. Wow he has such a lovely voice. He's singing what I call Pretty baby but it's actually The way you making me feel.

While we're on John Mayer - I have been in love with his song Daughters for just ever.
Father's be good to your daughters ....Mothers be good to your daughters too

Here's something interesting John Mayer is an active youtube user and posts up some of his random strummings all the time as well as notes for aspiring guitarists. Falling in love with his cover of Justin Timberlake's I think that she knows (interlude)

The original song by JT.

Anyway one thing took me to another thing and I found this song all I know its by Levent called Tell Me. Can't seem to find info on him - catchy song.

Back to MJ, Madonna did a tribute to him at the opening of her concert.

Then there was the Michael Jackson Tribute in Stockholm on July 8, 2009. Thanks to the Pierre for shooting the video. Dancers from Bounce based in Sweden, invited the public for a choreographed lesson before performing parts of Beat It at three locations in Stockholm. The video shows 2 - Sergels Torg and the Central Station. Lovely tribute if you ask me.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Island of the Dolls

Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls)

Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) near Mexico City looks to be a dark and curious place, filled with old doll parts placed there over 50 years by Don Julián Santana, a hermit who died in 2001.

Found at Boing Boing

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Gone too soon - MJ

“I want to say to Michael’s children, there wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with.” - Al-Sharpton.

That’s when the camera focused on the children and instantly a beaming Paris Jackson stands up and claps. It was evident the children knew what surrounded their father.
Her heart warming message haunts me. The little girl’s grief is unimaginable but she needed to tell the world what he meant to her. How much of a father he was. If you watched the tribute, she stepped up to the mike, that’s how much the world has pushed MJ. That a child grieving the death of the one man who was her all had to tell the world how much he meant to her.

“Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just wanted to say I love you so much” – Paris Katherine Jackson

My heart goes out to the children. Stevie started me on the tears with his song.

"This is a moment I wished I wouldn't live to see ... As much as we may feel that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more." – Stevie Wonder.

Gone Too Soon by Usher turned into my breaking point. MJ was gone too soon.

"On June 25th, because he was the best, I believe heaven and earth did pause indeed to say of Michael Joseph Jackson, 'Here lived a great entertainer who who did his job well." - Martin Luther King III

I still can’t believe he’s gone even as I sat there watching his casket arrive. The tribute was heartfelt, the silence in the arena was in a way a tribute to MJ. There was one thing that I felt should have been there, Michael’s voice. I wish they had played his songs. Heal of the world was lovely but it wasn’t Michael and truthfully I think the Malaysian tribute rendition with Michael’s voice was more touching.

My heart goes out to the dancers and singers who had spent so much time rehearsing and at the brink of their dreams to perform with Michael Jackson. Their dreams like my own regret of never having seen him in concert will continue to haunt us.

God bless his children, family, friends and all the fans mourning the lost of the Greatest artist who brought the world together.

MJ you will always be loved and thank you for being with me for the last 29 years. I never knew a world without you till your passing but you will live in all of us through your music.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Changing perceptions

I am plump.

But I think I’m gorgeous. But most people who look like me don’t have the confidence I have neither do they think they’re beautiful. To make matters worse I‘m also dark and that’s apparently another huge disadvantage as an Asian.

How many dark women do you see in commercials that have nothing to do with festivals? I really don’t care what people think of me but most people do.

Having been a performer I can tell you one thing, people who used to enjoy my performances didn’t care how I looked. But people around me, teachers, friends and family weren’t that supportive, they were embarrassed I wasn’t super thin. At some point I did succumb to them, but with age I’ve grown up to realize they need to open their minds.

Most people grow up being self conscious of how they look, they starve themselves to fit an image or size that society sets. They try to imitate celebrities and models who are deemed the look to emulate, people condemn celebrities for how they look, they spend on facial products that promise to turn you into snow white coz you know you can only get married or get a job if you’re fair.

I’m not telling you to go pig out and not exercise. I’m saying if that’ your body shape (thin or plump) live with it and be proud of how you look. It’s essential that you eat healthy and stay healthy. If you can’t climb the stairs or walk the length of Midvalley (for example) it’s about time you get some exercise.

Our society has a set of perceived ideas for beauty, one size, one look, one age – anything out of the box and they are frowned upon.

I really believe we should stop idealizing one size and accept people for how they look and celebrate their inner beauty. So many talents are wasted because we can’t see beyond their size and looks. We scrutinize celebrities forgetting these were once ordinary people whose talents should be the one we judge and not how they look. Then we complain that these celebrities are setting bad examples to youngsters with their micro diets and what-so-ever. We’re a confused bunch aren’t we?

How are we going to educate the younger generation if we ourselves are confused? We should instill this into our children; tell them it is rude to call people names based on how they look. We should tell our children people come in different sizes and colour and you shouldn’t judge them by that.

So here’s the thing. What am I doing to educate people?

Well I’m organizing a photography competition in collaboration with KLPAC on the theme Beautiful Imperfections.

The challenge is to see imperfections as beauty and change the mindset on the perceived ideas of beauty. The idea is to show that everyone can be beautiful and it is the photographers duty to show them on their best side. Show how ordinary people are beautiful too. Let their inner beauty shine in your photographs.

So we’re looking for submission of photos of plump, old, super thin, non model/ model like, non muscular, wrinkles, disability and any kind of physical imperfections set by society.

People who take part in this exhibition must believe in the theme as you will be required to sell the idea to visitors at the exhibition. Don’t do this if you just want to exhibit.

The exhibition will take place under my flickr group SWAM in December so if you think your grandma, girlfriend, friend or anyone is beautiful and you can shoot them beautifully join the competition (read the rules first) and spread the message. ;)

Friday, July 03, 2009

MJ’s last rehearsal

AEG released MJ’s last rehearsal video 2 days before his death. It’s been a week since MJ left us.

i just love the last smile of satisfaction on his face as the lights dimmed

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Body? ...check ...Legs? ...check

.... where's the head?? Ops Houston we have a problem!

Body - Check, legs - check ....

Urbanscapes 2009 was as crazy as this art instalation. I kinda spent a long time standing in front of it (it was made of all kinds of black scraps). it was all over the place but still so intriguing.

Urbanscapes 2009

Urbanscape 2009 is a music and arts festival powered by artists and organized by KLUE magazine. Everything from photography, music, drama, movie screening, live music performance both contemporary and more classical pieces are performed simultaneously. There was something going on everywhere!

I’d been given free tickets for the festival as my photos had been selected by KLUE to be showcased under their curated section. Since Kerv was supposed to get his passes from another project, I gave mine to another friend.

Oh but the heat had other ideas, while we were stuck waiting for Kervs tickets, my friend who had arrived earlier decided she couldn’t take the heat and was going home. I don’t blame her, I was so tempted!

Anyway since I had an extra ticket we decided to stop waiting and go enjoy the festival. The first act we watched or more like were drawn to the KL Stompers. Using pails, brooms, bottles and trash cans they swept our hearts off. They were a pretty brilliant rhythmic bunch.

MJ tribute in Malaysia Tugu drummers 60 ideas

There was a small shrine set up for MJ with just his infamous hat and a single white rose. They finished off with a rendition of We are the children with the crowd joining it. Props to them!

We finally ventured inside to escape from the heat and checkout the exhibitions. Loved the Kukubesi project set of photos – you couldn’t have missed him itself, the man in a kilt.

I was sorely disappointed with the quality of the projection of photos in the KLUE 24hour KL screen. The horrid resolution made all the photos look ugly! Sadly my photo was on the same screen under the selected submissions category. I saw both of my shots, but it really made me cringe seeing how blurred out the screen was. They also didn’t put up our names, typical of local media. They NEVER credit photographers.
KLUE I hope you look into this for next year, all the other screens seemed ok. I wouldn’t have taken part if I had known the quality would be so horrendous!

The good thing is I just realized KLUE had published 3 of my shots for their June issue out of the 4 I submitted. They did credit me there. Props for that.

Cheeky A letter for grandpa
(these 2 were exhibited)

And you go left

Kerv finally received his ticket and we went back down to get our bands (we didn’t realize we had to – signboards would have helped – we were sitting around the ticketing counter for a long time and didn’t realize it was needed)

It was torturous to go out in the heat again. So we quickly went back in and upstairs to check out one of the movies. Right before we landed infront of the 60 Ideas in a Box booth. The idea was to purchase a ciggerate box filled with ideas instead of buying a box of cigerates. Cool eh!

I only drum!

I ended up buying one coz of the idea and the lovely sales lady. She had such a lovely smile and ended up blushing when I asked her if I could shoot her.
Off we headed for Gadoh by . Now the story was predictable but the acting and flow was quite good. What I was irritated with was the poor lighting and cinematography.
It made watching the movie irritating as I kept mumbling about it. They could have just used the 1/3 rule and shot outdoors most of the time since it is a school based movie.

A fan

The thing that irritates me is, I later watch super low budget short movies that I didn’t get (surrealism) but I loved the cinematography. Simple clean and nice lighting.

So try to marry them both will ya?

Right after Gadoh, they started with the live performance by the Tugu Drum Circle. Every Sunday evening, this group meets up at the Tugu memorial and drums away, I haven’t been able to catch them yet till Urbanscapes. Wow they were awesome and together with the Rythm in Bronze group they created amazing magic. One of the ladies had such a beautiful voice, we were mesmerized. And I love the smiles on their faces while they played.

Pop Shuvit

Feeling much more cooler, we headed outside coz I wanted to catch Pop Shuvit in concert. We were right in front next to the speakers. Actually we were standing to the back and side of the speaker at first, but our ear drums threatened to burst, we quickly went to stand at the side, which was right below the stage. They rocked the show. They have some wild fans, they were a bunch of guys jumping at each other and one gal (barely 15 I think) tried to pull Moots (the lead singer) shorts down. Hehehe it freaked him out and he practically jumped back. I was laughing my head off, though I think I lost my hearing.

Pop Shuvit

We came out after that and listed to Yuna for a bit. Nice sounds funky dressing (she managed to make the muslim veil cool). We decided to go see other things after that. That’s when we saw this little gal running around with a bunch of balloons. She was just mesmerizing and so entertained by her balloons. The parents were amused seeing us watch her and told us she’s been at it for more than 30 minutes. ;p


That’s when we heard the drums and figured the Tugu drummers were at the drum circle. As we were getting there we were sidelined by a frozen Joker. There was a group doing impromptu poses as their character would do. I didn’t get their name though. One of our friends was in it as well.


While it was fun, the drums calling was getting louder and we were pulled there. Anyone was invited to join the circle and beat a tune. So after watching the first round, I decided to try my hand at it. I thought I took 10 mins, Kerv swears I was beating for an hour! Weird it really felt like 10 minutes!

Once they broke for a break we headed to get some food and drinks and that’s when fatigue finally hit us. I had wanted to catch more concerts later, but everyone was on a break till 8. So we decided to head back when we bumped into fire swingers. Well Kerv smelt kerosene and that’s how we knew they were gonna spin fire! Coz when I asked one of their members she told me no.

The Tugu drummers Butter-fire-flies

Oooh fire spinning is always fun, I think I never grew out of my obsession with shiny things! After that we said goodbye to Urbanscapes and headed home.

Urbanscapes 2009 was definetly good, I do wish we’d seen traditional performances as well and more dance. Maybe for 2010?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gather the Energy

Gather the Energy , originally uploaded by visithra.

I caught Gather the Lost in April and managed to speak to both the artist Nancy and Bill. Both of them have been traveling the world teaching dance and yoga while learning local cultures and dance. What I loved about their performance then was the amazing concentration; they were aware of their surroundings but did not react to anything eventhough they were performing in a crowded lobby area.

Twirl Light Moving Gather the Energy
They were back to perform in KLPAC last month and I got a chance to watch them again during the Summer Solstice. This time the performance was called Gather the Energy. Their dance style is called tribal ritual dance and has elements of belly dancing, Indian, eastern and African moves.

The performance began outside the studio and at the end the group together with another dancer Vimala travelled back to their changing rooms with the audience and musicians following behind them. It was a Pied Piper moment, curious to see what was next and enchanted by their moves and the beating of the drums, people followed them out.

Veiled Light
They have made some excellent improvements, the time taken for the rituals were shorter, they changed the feel of the performance which gave a vibe of energy compared to the first one’s sense of loss and the use of live percussionists which made a lot of difference.

Gather the Energy Trance

You could feel their joy and love for dance in their performance and the way they engaged the audience. I came out of the performance feeling a sense of vibrancy and joy at being a part of such an energized performance. The excellent music by the KLPAC in house percussionists added to the experience.

Nancy teaches tribal belly dance at KLPAC.