Chi (Japanese for Earth) Udaka (Sanskrit for Water)
Chi Udaka's 2016 tour opened on 25th June 2016 to a rather full house and it comes with no surprise. My fascination with Chi Udaka began when I watched them at the Sydney festival in early 2014. The concept of a fusion between Japanese drum beats and classical Indian music and dance intrigued me. Executed to such perfection, Chi Udaka is a wonderful synthesis of beats, grace, divinity and mysticism. The partnership of the two talented groups provides a stage to watch unabating percussion sound and it's fusion with classical Indian Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance styles.
This edition of Chi Udaka presents 8 scenes, depicting a day from early dawn to midnight. For a little over 75 minutes, 5 proficient drummers are accompanied by 5 angelic dancers and musicians including a cello and shakuhachi artist and a vocalist to produce a magnificent production that leaves the audience in awe of the performer's skill.
Chi Udaka 2016 Australian Tour Photo credit:Taikoz and Lingalayam
The stage opens to a courtyard scene set before dawn. The lighting of traditional lamps and ringing of the bell signifies the beginning. The 5 Taiko drummers then take their seated positions at the raised rear of the stage to drum a spectacle that tunes the audience into their beats. From slow to fast, soft to loud and with synchronization that is purely spellbinding, they display the variety and the scale of the drums and leave nothing to imagination. The dancers soon join the stage and charm the audience with their grace, expressions and ability to match the beating of the drums with their moves.
The drum artists soon hang their instrument across their shoulders and get onto the stage along with the dancers. The act that follows is energetic and it seems as if the 2 sets of performers have accepted a silent challenge. The question that follows is, will the drummers' arms tire sooner than the dancers' feet? There's drama on stage as their talent collides and they perform to out do each other. This act produced my most memorable moment of the evening. Watching the percussionists beat both sides of the drum with swift movement of the same hand in split seconds produced a feat that is spectacular to watch and a beat that is melodious to listen.
Lingalayam Dance Company's artistic Director Anandavalli has accomplished much in her career spanning 48 years. Taikoz and Lingalayam have joined hands with their production Chi Udaka and have had much success earlier in 2014 and at the opening of the Sydney TEDx at the Opera House in 2016.
Taikoz and Lingalayam have surely raised the bar with this production. After a successful beginning to the show at Riverside Theatres Parramatta, Chi Udaka is headed to mesmerize audiences at Canberra, Kensington, Bathurst, Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Brisbane. Check out their tour plan here.