Taka tika tiga digadum

I swear, when I went home on Thursday night, the taka tika vocal rhythms that push out the beats of classical Indian dance were rattling out of the bus that I climbed onto. Taka tika tiga digadum. Tak. tik. tum.
This is the sort of sound I mean, sort of.

My steady stream of complaints about the paucity of live music here seems to have paid off. One night in Pondicherry, a youth troupe nimbly paired musical and staff-twirling folk dance performances. During my two nights in Chennai, there was Shobana dancing and a seduction of Carnatic music that earned my adoration for the entire genre.

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As soon as I got back to Hyderabad, I discovered that the annual Kuchipudi festival had shifted this year, and three nights of performances were takatikatigadigadum at a venue I can reach easily. Kuchipudi is a town and its dance form, theatrical and bejeweled, solemn and occasionally utterly silly. I particularly enjoy the group performances, which depend on the active artistry of each dancer rather than exacting unison in the group’s motions. I also particularly enjoy the full-body sign language, with precise hand gestures to express a narrative and split-second transformations between proud deity and obliging attendant, or a river, or a snake, or.

Please notice the facial expression on the left.

And I also particularly enjoy the stacks of bells around the ankles. Kuchipudi is poised to take a leading role on the Sphoorti stage; it could not be more appropriate, as a profusely narrative dance form which is traditional to Andhra Pradesh. We’re just waiting for a key component to land on our doorstep.

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The Kuchipudi festival generously threw a couple other dance forms into the mix – there was one Kathak recital, and a whole show of Manipuri, a song and dance and dress and drum I’d never encountered before. These cylindrical ladies are gently bobbing and twisting, carried by the currents of the Ganga.

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These snappy fellows are about to toss off their turbans with a flick of the neck and leap into airborne, acrobatic feats of – drumming – I mean, sideways cartwheels in unison – I mean, tigadigadum.

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Filed under dance, Hyderabad, India, music

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