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.
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.
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.
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.
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.