Oddly beautiful

  • Anoushka Shankar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Nov 20, 2009 19:20 IST

Yawn. It’s two in the morning. There’s a storm outside my window. It’s clattering against my window so loud I wouldn’t be sleeping even if I had finished all my work. It’s oddly beautiful. I’m in Sheffield, in the North of London, and it’s not one of the first places that would come to my mind as “beautiful,” traditionally speaking. But right now, there’s an orchestra playing, and it’s gorgeous.

The thunder is the tympany, booming with unexpected accents to the percussive raindrops on the pavement outside. The wind whistling through the trees hums a frantic melody. And now and then, my window is blown so hard that it chimes in with a clear, glassy chord. It almost seems ready to break, come to think of it. Well, I suppose a storm crashing through my window would wake me up a bit! Life has brought me to Sheffield to rehearse my upcoming concert. It’s because, among other things, the show features an aerial performer, an incredible dancer who works thirty feet in the air. We’ve come here to rehearse in a circus space that accommodates her, and every now and then I go to another room and there’s a man on a unicycle or a contortionist warming up. It’s pretty trippy! It’s great being around these different creative forms.

I’ve referenced the upcoming music and dance festival happening at Sadler’s Wells in London a few times already, and now it’s finally happening. It’s one of the most incredible dance venues in the world, and Akram Khan and Nitin Sawhney are curating a two-week South Asian festival, featuring in it themselves, along with Trilok Gurtu, U. Srinivas, and many other incredible artists. I’m getting more and more excited to be part of the festival, because I’m more than halfway through my rehearsals and touch wood, it’s going really well! It’s a totally new concept, at least for me, to be working in this manner. It’s a new piece, and I always get really fired up energetically and creatively when I play new music. It’s incredible to watch these dancers add to the music and take it to a new height, and also I had no idea how much I would love being involved in the choreography! 

I wish I could describe the show to you all, because it’s quite special to me, and seems quite unusual and different. I will just keep my fingers crossed that the show goes well and we have the opportunity to tour it more in the future, especially if that means bringing it to India.  And don’t be surprised if you see me practicing my new contortionist moves anytime soon. Yikes, on second thought, maybe it’s time for bed.


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