Jazz Corner: A Celebration of Music, Dance and Passion
We analyze two different art forms which brought out similar emotions through their performances
Music listeners go to concerts all their lives in the hope that they will catch an exceptional, memorable and passionate performance sooner or later. We were privileged to be present at not one but two quite memorable concerts in Mumbai recently. Lucky indeed! One was a concert by American singer Beth Hart,Â the headliner at the 2019Â Mahindra Blues Festival and the other a dance recital at the NCPAÂ entitled Flamenco Katha.
These two sets ofÂ artists had nothing in common as far as their genres of music and dance are concerned. One is a vocalist who wants to make sure she is not categorized as either a blues or a jazz singer and the other a pair of dancers from diverse disciplines that have forged together a dance form as exciting and dynamic as any.
But these events had one thing in common: the passion and the fire that went into each show. They delivered their performances with such fervor and force that they swept their audiences away completely. Both were beyond mind blowing and, if only to recognize their impact, they need to be saluted; we are about to do just that.
Hart performed to a large audience at the Mahindra Blues Festival at Mehboob Studio in Bandra. Although she was a big name at the festival, she was vehement in saying that she should not be categorized as any one type of singer. As soon as she started singing,Â we knew exactly why she denied being a blues singer; Hart just communicated uncompromisingly to the audience. The raw power ofÂ her expression hit you between the eyes. She had spoken about her fractured past, her addictions, her pains and her tribulations. Somehow, she brought these out in song, vehemently and powerfully. She also sang about her sister who died of AIDS due to an infected needle withÂ pain and palpable force. She sang equally emphatically about her own tribulations. Hart didn’t hold back one bit and she communicated her feelings to everyone who was present. It was a tsunami of emotions emanating in song. We were stung by it.
The other concert with equal power and equally compelling was a dance and music recital, Flamenco Katha at the Experimental Theatre at the NCPA. This concert left us speechless with its impact. The classy exponents were Aditi Bhagwat, a well known Kathak dancer and Kunal Om, a Flamenco dancer who has learnt his craft in Granada, Spain, where he has been residing for the past five years, studying every nuance of thisÂ dance form.
What they have created together is neither Kathak nor Flamenco, although with important ingredients from both. They have worked very hard with the elements common to both these majestic, proud dance styles and have emerged with an unbelievably beautiful dance form.Â To start with, both these dancers are exceptionally talented and have mastered their individual crafts. However, to converge their dance concepts, they have worked tirelessly for three years, practicing regularly and honing their blend of dance.
Make no mistake; Flamenco Katha is no superficial fusion of dance forms. It is a new dance genre in the making and is fuelled by the complete belief and commitment of these two artists. For their Mumbai concert, the duo was accompanied by Aditya Kudtarkar on cajon, Deepak Verma on Spanish guitar, Shruti Bhave on violin and vocals, Vinayak Gawas on tabla and special guests, Rajasthani singers Abid Khan and Abdul Raseed, both from Jodhpur. These musicians need to be mentioned as they were an integral part of the experience.Â Interestingly, the origins of the Flamenco have been traced to Rajasthan from where members of travelling gypsies wandered to Spain via Romania and Hungary several hundred years ago.
The highlight of the spectacular evening of music and dance was the performance of the complicated dance Siguiriyas, a particular form of the Flamenco by Kunal and Aditi. It is a deep, expressive style of dance where the music is played in five beats. The two dancers matched the intensity of the music with great fluency.
The passion brought into their performance by Bhagwat and Om was as palpable as that of Hart. It is impossible to have such vivid, driving passion for one’s art or craft without being totally honest in one’s commitment to that art form. These artists were completely honest and utterly committed to their art forms.Â Those in Mumbai who were present at these performances should consider themselves truly blessed.