Review: The Rhythm Divine

Pung Cholom Dancers with Astad Deboo

A fusion of the avant-garde with the traditional, that was the Rhythm Divine. A collaboration borne out of Astad Deboo’s almost 11 year romance with Manipur where he came across Guru Seityabanji and his troupe of Pung Cholom drummers of Shri Shri Govindji Nat Sankirtan. The traditional Pung Cholom drumming metamorphosed with the body vocabulary (as he calls it) of Astad Deboo. A treat to the eyes!

The performance began painfully slow –an almost chrysalis like depiction, extremely slow, with classical background music. In fact, in the first 15 mins I was almost bored! And then the dancers picked up the tempo — with perfect synchronization once they had the beats of drums or of their palms on their thighs (which is how they practice apparently). What followed was visual poetry — the oriental music and dance of the drummers and Astad Deboo who complemented them with emoting fingers, emoting eye-brows and an emoting body.

When the drummers were finally given the drums in the last act (what they are most comfortable with), the music and the dance built up into a crescendo — a fitting end. In the discussion that followed, Deboo described how he’d worked with Manipuri martial artists in the past and then he’d put up a performance with the drummers at the Frankfurt Book fair when India was the guest of honour(2006), and it seems he has made it into a regular feature now.

To read more: Astad Deboo on RediffAn Interview with Astad Deboo Ranga Shankara’s Programme Site

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