I got notified about this concert to be held in SOAS in London. I have attended japanese plays and opera before, but this was a completely new one to me. Tenri is a place which hosts Tenrikiyo, a new religion of Japan. Very nice one. They utilise traditional Japanese instruments in their religious ceremonies. And they are the foremost proponents of the ancient Shinto court music of Japan also known as Gagaku. Tenri University has a link up with SOAS and this dance/music troupe of current students is touring Europe giving these performances. It was bloody amazing. The concept of rhythm that i have grown up in India and what I have learnt here in the West is totally different in this form of music and dance. But I will let you judge for yourself. Thankfully they allowed photography but I only had my little dinky camera with me, plus there was this large bald fellow in front of me (grumbles), they should put some kind of anti light scattering on their bald pates, created havoc with the damn photos. Anyway, here we go.
Then these chaps started to file in from both sides.
This is a farmer and another farmer are farming their fields to music. Digging the farrow, planting the seeds, patting the soil down, watering it, etc. etc. I couldnt understand the significance of the face mask. The facemask had faces drawn on it.
Then the farmers hit the bird with a blow and break its wing. It flutters around in panic and pain.
It is very happy and then flies away.
They finish it and then just the chap in the right hand side front bows.
And finished this session.
Then a bunch of the chaps came in from both sides and sat at the ends. Then two extraordinarily dressed characters walked in.
Very richly embroidered outfits.
Then they walk off. Lovely. But very much like puppets.
Frikking hell. What a face.
The students bowed
It was fascinating to see the whole thing. It was completely foreign to my experience. Very formalised and stylistic court performance. My experience has been either ballet or the other western dances, or then the various Indian dance forms. This was gobsmacking. And to think this is hundreds of years old in making. Plus few women in there as well. But the music was totally different – the rhythms and tones and breaks and gaps and and and were strange and unique to me.
One day I have to learn more about them. So much to learn and know, and so little time.