Ragamala Dance with Rudresh Mahanthappa 'Song of the Jasmine'
(7 Aug 2014: Damrosch Park Bandshell New York)
Lincoln Center is host to so many great shows that even on the same night you may find yourself conflicted over what to see. While I chose to see the world premiere of the ‘Song of the Jasmine’ dance as part of the ‘Out of Doors’ series, that meant I had to miss Tift Merritt performing in-doors for the ‘Americanafest’ series. But I had seen Merritt recently with Andrew Bird and she will surely be back around again so I chose to see the dance—though I had to catch a couple of her songs at the beginning.
The turnout for the dance performances was impressive as the Asia Society also shared word of the event. The first performance, done by the Chinese American Arts Council Dancers and called ‘From Chinatown with Love’, featured vivid colors and costumes as well as the dancers incorporating accessories like fans or spears. In stark contrast was the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and their performance of ‘Be/Longing 2’. The dancers wore comfortable, loose athletic attire that didn’t pull attention away from their dramatic motions.
The Ragamala Dance group held the audience’s attention for the final performance, the ‘Song of the Jasmine’. The female dancers clothes were traditional Indian attire and jewelery as they moved in the classical Bharatanatyam dance style. On one side of the stage was jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and his band (which included guitarist Rez Abbasi) to provide music both accompanying the dancers and just for the audience as the dancers retreated from the stage. The performance was considered “to embody the spiritual and the sensual that are the lifeblood of the Indian psyche” and the audience sat transfixed—well at least those in the general admission seats, the VIP tent held mostly chatterers.
Chinese American Arts Council Dancers: ‘From Chinatown with Love’:
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers: ‘Be/Longing 2’ (New York premiere):
Ragamala Dance with Rudresh Mahanthappa: ‘Song of the Jasmine’ (New York Premiere):
Tift Merritt was across the street in Lincoln Center’s Rubenstein Atrium for a free Thursday night ‘Americanafest NYC’ performance: