Last night, Karen and I watched two men in black turning and twirling, stamping and stomping, taunting and teasing; bodies and minds intertwined against the backdrop of haunting voices, drum beats and ankle bells; a captivating interplay of movements and emotions so intense that the hour dissipated like the beads of sweat from the brows of the men.
TOROBAKA – the Spanish bull and the Indian cow, symbolic animals of two fascinating cultures – is a collaboration by two grand dance masters Israel Galván and Akram Khan, both pushing the limits of Spanish flamenco and Indian kathak.
According to The Telegraph,
Any meeting of kathak and flamenco is a fascinating prospect, in that the two dance styles are already, to some extent, fusions of each other. It’s reckoned that, almost a thousand years ago, Romani emigrating from India to southern Spain, via Persia, brought with them similar Persian influences to those that the Mughals in turn brought eastwards to northern India. Which would explain why the two schools both hinge so conspicuously on similar tropes: foot-stamping, complex rhythmic patterns and proud carriage.
Ok, I didn’t know that earlier but what a night of surprises. And what are they doing? Shutting each other’s mouths and challenging in a ring of lights until one collapses.
It was a fast act, so fast that I wouldn’t dare to blink in case I missed out something important, whatever that may be. The dance without the traditional costumes and classical music interjections make the act purer and draws one’s focus on the dancers. I suppose that’s a good way to introduce traditional art forms to a contemporary audience.
I liked the solo acts as well as the duet. Can’t decide who I liked better. To me, Galván is powerful and Khan is graceful. Its like one is creating the earth and the other the people.
What’s really amazing is you don’t feel you’re compelled to understand flamenco or kathak. You don’t have to. Representations of the traditional dance are weaved beautifully into the performance through elaborate hand and body movements. Using simple gestures and familiar sounds, Galván and Khan with their musicians reach out to the audience through the language of dance, transcending spoken words and all associations of the material world.
In the end, a standing ovation from the rousing crowd. A night well spent!
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