India, Africa to create new symphony through culture, dance

April 6th, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) India and Africa will script a new cultural synergy coinciding with the India-Africa summit beginning here Monday by showcasing and merging the best of traditional music and dance from both the countries. The ancient Sufi, Fellahin and Gypsy dances of sub-Saharan Africa, the Zulu warrior dance and the Royal Reed dance of South Africa will fuse with the Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathak forms of India.

The cultural extravaganza, which will be shown to the heads of African states Monday, aims to orchestrate a camaraderie that will set the tone for greater bilateral exchange.

The hour-long show titled ‘A Tribute To Africa’, presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, will be held at the Purana Quila here Monday evening for the delegates.

A giant podium with a sophisticated sound system set up on the sprawling lawns of the Puran Qila will host nearly 90 artistes from Africa and almost an equal number from India.

The concert will see jugalbandis (duets) between the Mohiniattam dancers from Kerala and the native dancers from Ghana and Senegal, while the Dolkundita dancers of Karnataka will share space with a troupe from Kenya. Kathak dancers will collaborate with traditional performers from Egypt and Algeria.

Drummers from Ghana and South Africa will showcase ancient rhythms from the heart of the continent in a Panchavadhyan (five instruments) duet with Indian percussion artistes.

“India and Africa share several cultural similarities and the fusion performance is an attempt to showcase the common traits that bind music and dances of India and Africa,” Sangeeta Ishwara, choreographer of the show, told IANS.

Twelve countries from Africa are taking part in the event.

“African dances are very grounded. They worship the earth through their dance forms like Indians. Just as we invoke panchabhoot (five elements) in our traditional dance forms, Africans, who are animistic by nature, also worship their spirits of earth, life, air and nature through their ritual dances. In fact, Africa has a dance for every occasion,” Ishwara explained.

Another aspect that binds Indian dance forms to that of Africa is the predominance of the body. According to Indian religious tradition, the body is one of the 16 offerings made to god.

“They too convey emotions like us through the body language unlike Jews, Muslims and the Christians, who stress on music and vocals in their artistic expressions. The dual components of rhythm and spirit of African dances are as complex as ours. They also have their trance and possession dances that preach transcendence to another plane through art,” Ishwara said.

African dances use the concept of polyrhythm or total body articulation by synchronised movements of shoulders, chest, pelvis, arms and legs. The dances are largely participatory, said Kirabira Hasadu, a dancer from Uganda.

The five main dance forms are the warrior dances, dances of love, dances of coming of age and circumcision, dances of welcome and dances of trance or possession.

Percussion and string instruments are the staple of African music. While the percussion are made of hollow tree trunks, topped with animal skins and tree barks, string instruments are mostly made of wood.

In African villages, the sound and rhythm of drums express the mood of the people. The drum in Africa is the sign of life.

“African dances have mostly evolved out of situations that the particular country has faced. For instance, countries like Morocco, Algeria and Libya, which were colonised by Europeans have culled from Western performing arts. As a result, the ancient traditions of belly dancing, hegallah or the coming of age dance and the religious dances have become more contemporary.

“However, in east Africa, inhabited by indigenous communities, ethnicity of the dances is still untouched. In contrast, there has been a conscious attempt to preserve traditional dance forms in South Africa,” said Hasadu.

Hasadu, a history and economics teacher by profession and a string instrument player, is associated with the Uganda-based Elgon Troupe. He has been dancing for the last 15 years.

He will perform the traditional Bakisimba/Tamaninahaibuga revelry dance from Uganda. The country, home to 56 tribes, has a special dance for each community of which Bakisimba, Runyege, Mwaga and Gazze dances are the most popular.

The show will also be held for the general public Sunday evening.

Related Stories

    Posted in Uncategorized |