Two Feet, An Eyebrow and a Storm

At the end of the day, the canvass for a dancer is the body. Attention it pays to every part equally should automatically make for a better dancer, a better performance. Is that true ? or is it only the feet feet and feet ! or is it the feet feet feet and one eyebrow !!

Pandit Chitresh Das, the Kathak Guru and Jason Samuels Smith, the Tap exponent demonstrated their penchant for dance with amazing comraderie respect and understanding for each other’s aesthetic and artistic expressions in a production that was brought for the first time to Australia called Tap Kathak by Parramasala.

The audience were introduced to the Jazz ensemble made up of the sounds of the drums, upright bass and piano played by Channing Cook Holms, Aaron James and Theodore Hill. Their swinging notes and beats filled the air setting the tone of a way side pub in Manhattan. A smiling friendly Jason Samuels Smith walks onto the stage and with an American slur says “Namasthe” and the cross cultural story curtains down at the Parramasala Festival.

Before the audience knew Jason plunges into a steady uplifting rap and then tapping away spreads his joy with his feet, his beats and words. Did my heart swell and stop beating or did I see those riveting movements when his feet appeared to be flying, skimming the surface? Jason Samuels Smith has an interesting background. Considered the multi talented leader in the Art of Tap he has won awards for Outstanding and inventive choreography, evident in this production from the word go.

The exciting sounds of the drums, feet, bass are replaced with the second act with the sounds of the sarangi played by Pandit Ramesh Mishra. The tone and sounds of the Himalayas filling the auditorium felt surreal and breathtaking at the same time. The tabla played by Abhijit Bannerjee, and the Sitar played by Jayanta Bannerjee join in and set the stage for the entrance of Guru Chitresh Das. A small man in stature, he stood tall and powerful in Shiva Vandana singing the words of his song as he danced followed by the Thaat where the subtle movements of his eyebrows, eyes neck and wrists held every body spell bound. Pandit Chitresh Das then explored the story of Shakuntala and Dushanta, demonstrating his movements with an explanation in English, again the lift of the eyebrows when Shakuntala and Dushanta see each other and the final culminating Act when Dushanta rides away in his horse, leaving the sounds of the hooves of the horses in the minds of Shakuntala and the audience gave him a standing ovation.

Chitresh Das’s arithmetic demonstration of the train as it leaves Indian Railway stations, and his exploration of system of pancha jathis and in particular his recitation of the bols of the jathis as he danced were a fete to be seen. At the end of the day, its the ability of a performer to communicate what he is doing that makes for its success was beautifully demonstrated. But Chitresh Das called it Nritya Yoga.

Then came the experimental exchange between Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith. As the two of them ventured into indescribable combinations of fast and furious beats with their feet, their accompanying musicians and their minds, the subtle touch of the eyebrows and the neck collaborating with the storm of their rythms made for an unforgettable experience. MORE PHOTOS HERE

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