Zulu-natyam - fusing South African and Indian art

None | ByIndo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
Jan 29, 2007 12:50 PM IST

A fusion dance performance by South Africa's Tribhanga Dance Theatre Group wowed the capital's art connoisseurs.

They thumped their feet to the beats of African music and did perfect mudras (hand gestures) of Bharatanatyam. A blend of two different cultures, the fusion dance performance by South Africa's Tribhanga Dance Theatre Group wowed art connoisseurs here.

HT Image
HT Image

Fusing two different art forms - the Zulu dance of South Africa, a dance of happiness; and Bharatanatyam, the elegant and expressive dance form of Tamil Nadu in south India - is no mean task.

But the six artists of the theatre group from South Africa, under the guidance of Jayesperi Moopen, did it with élan Saturday evening so as not to mar either of the dance forms.                                                                                  

From the deep 'Om' at the beginning of the performance to African couplets interspersed in between, from the musical rhythm of the ghungroos (anklets) to the beating of the drums, the various sounds created a mesmerising ambience which captivated the audience at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture.

Like in any other fusion dance, the movements of the artists and the music were a blend of Zulu and Bharatanatyam, but what set this performance apart was the way in which one form was interwoven into the other.

While some parts of the performance were done to recorded music, others involved live music being created on stage by thumping of the feet, loud clapping and a generous amount of whistling.

At one point, the artists used bamboo poles to thump the ground and in another simply beat their boots to create the desired beats! As the beats took pace, so did the flow of their movement from one dance form to the other.

Dressed in bright reds, greens and oranges, electrifying is the word that defines this performance, both because of the myriad hues on the stage and the sheer energy the performers exuded.

As they clapped, thumped, whistled and laughed, all the while moving around elegantly, it was only natural that their infectious energy caught on to the audience who couldn't stop cheering them after regular intervals.

A small skit was also thrown in between the show, which invited loud applause and peals of laughter from the spectators.

The culmination of the performance was the 'jugalbandi' that, in the director's words, was "the show stealer".

Dressed in their traditional attire, three men performed the typical Zulu dance, complete with their shields, while three women, in saris and flowers in their hair, did Bharatanatyam mudras in perfect harmony.

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