How could I resist? Indian kathak and Spanish flamenco. A partnership between the percussive stomping of flamenco boots and rhythmic beats of kathak's ankle bells. It's been a crazy-busy week, but I had to toggle the schedules to fit in one final show of the festival- Akram Khan and Israel Galván's 'TOROBAKA'. If you're wondering what the name means, it's something to do with a bull and a cow.
Had to watch these choreographers and performers in action. Bit of a fangirl. Oof. Akram Khan and Israel Galván are the contemporary icons. Don't know how they could move like that. Watching them on stage sent a delicious thrill down the spine. Kathak has always been likened to flamenco and vice versa. But kathak has been danced even before the Mughal Empire came into power in the fifteenth century; Flamenco in its popular version is a later development in the eighteenth century.
Always fantastic to have musicians and singers (Christine Leboutte and David Azurza) on stage. The instruments comprised flamenco compás palmero Bobote who also sang, and percussionist B C Manjunath. The vocals, songs and the beats were such a show. Those time signatures were enchanting. I don't know enough of the beats of kathak or flamenco, but I did recognize the borrowing of numbers from one another to make a rhythm. It was brilliant. I was totally hypnotized.
It was a short 70-minute program. It was sad that the Esplanade Theatre was only a third filled that night. I understand that the second and final show was probably half-full. It isn't really a popular interpretation, I suppose. It's really an expression of artistic ideals. One needs to be open to Akram Khan and Israel Galván's styles and choreography. It's esoteric, and full of idiosyncrasies. Could have been be a bit patchy because of uhhh... artistic egos. TOROBAKA had been described as a duet and a duel. That was exactly how it felt. A circular ring of light and space. Tensions of polar opposites of dance styles, then conversation between the beats and the movements. Loads of footwork and arms. Respect and passion. A constructive dialogue, if you will. Kinda experimental but fun. Boundaries were definitely pushed. One would either love it or hate it. I found it exhilarating.