DANCE, drums and dynamic performances of HANDS Percussion in a fusion of Chinese and African cultures.
The white globe on the curtain which was a backdrop of the stage slowly burnt into
amber, then orange and finally a mixture of light burgundy and the colour of the sun set; at first it seemed like a silent moon, then a bright sun until it settled into a three-dimensional planet indicating the beginning of Wind of Nomads or may be the very start of human kind on Earth. The performers (Yeap Eng Zheong, Phang Jian Hao, Leong Kah Miu, Jack Wan, Ng Siu Yee and Jimmy Ch’ng) quietly and gracefully enter the platform and the women were garbed in white while the men peacocked in snowy pants without having their torso covered. A series of gasps and light breathing heaved among the casts as if they were communicating in an primeval language while Olivier Tarpaga tapped his fingers on the drums; increasing the pace occasionally to the rhythm of the performers who are now erratically moving as though in a hunt and were passing a long bamboo stick. Afterwards, the first act ended after a sole dancer stirred across with the bamboo as his partner and the music was increasingly solemn and signifying the culmination of an era.
Wind of Nomads is a celebration and a collaboration between Malaysia’s HANDS Percussion and the acclaimed Burkina Faso-USA Darfa Drum that puts forward a rendition of a mixture of ancient Chinese drums and techniques as well as olden Manding Empire (West Africa) executed on Djembes and Dun Dun bass drums; it is a meeting of different parts of the world yet it is still a beautiful marriage. The piece is directed by Bernard Goh who wished to see the merging of two cultures as it has not been presented before on Malaysian soil and the workings of the performance and the years spent to perfect the production is evident especially through the faultless recital by the performers, the simplistic set design and costume by Lian Kian Lek and composition by Olivier Tarpaga (assisted by Burkina Faso’s Flatie Dembele and Wilfried Souly) who was absolutely lively throughout the many routines.
For a performance with minimum dialogue and a story that can only be individually
interpreted by the audience themselves, there is no stall in entertainment, suspense (especially during a routine involving two dancers, marimba players; Yon Nian Shee and Suyin Tan and the sound of trickling water) and chemistry between the performers who could be firm, enthusiastic and gloomy in their steps.Do pay attention to the details of sound, costume and lighting as Wind of Nomads is a story about men’s migration, technological globalisation and an integration of cultures throughout the ages; we see this when the male performers who bared their upper body at the beginning goes through modernity by wearing white shirts in the middle of the performance, we hear progress in the deafening sound of a moving train and the rendition of Terre Rouge (Red Hearth) may hint on the era of colonialism and European power houses.
What is truly unique about Wind of Nomads, is the angle taken by the HANDS percussion performers to make a very traditional art form into something that revels diversity even though it could be quite controversial in terms of upholding custom. Nevertheless, Wind of Nomads is impossibly beautiful, technically precise and as the nature of men themselves, connotes the evolution of music and the coming together of a well-planned alliance.
Images courtesy of Wyman Wong. Catch Wind of Nomads now until the 13th of August 2017 at Lambang Sari, Istana Budaya, Jalan Tun Razak! Purchase your tickets at www.airasiaredtix.com or contact +firstname.lastname@example.org.