“THE RAGA IS NOT IN THE HAND OF THE MUSICIAN”

The raga is not in the hand of the musician. The raga is to be found in the air. It knows no nationality or prejudice – Ravi Shankar*

I have sipped slurpees at 7-Elevens in Bangkok, ate at McDonald’s in places like Yogyakarta and drank Coca Cola in the Rift Valley listening to Maasai friends blast Ace is Base “All That She Wants” from their boombox. On my left shoulder sits Karl Marx, on my right Steve Jobs. i I don’t know which one is holding the pitch fork and which one has the wings. But as borders collapse there is one thing that is clear – we are hungry for what each other has to bring to the table.

There is an argument that massive globalization will wipe out diversity creating a soulless monoculture. On the other side of the debate is Akram Kahn and Nitin Sawhney’s beautiful and powerful rebuttal – CONFLUENCE.

Akram’s dance is rooted in Kathak from his childhood. I had a chance to express to the great Kathak choreographer Kumudini Lakhia at the premier of TAJ as well as to Akram my words (or rather lack of words on the escalator at TIFF) how moved I was by experiencing their work. Anchored on either end of the tradition as innovators, watching Kumudini’s work in TAJ followed by Akram’s in CONFLUENCE, I feel less concerned about this world losing touch with historical cornerstones of cultural.

Nitin’s musical talent is outrageous. So many times in his performance the arrangements of chords tickled my skin and watching Akram syncopate then flow to Nitin’s accompaniment was a moment in my life that will go into my treasure chest of perfect memories.

DON’T MISS CONFLUENCE! ONE MORE NIGHT – more info here

*I am paraphrasing from memory text that was written on the screen at CONFLUENCE and attributed to Ravi Shankar at the talk today with Akram and Nitin.