Thursday, April 12, 2012

Celebrating Latin America in India

"Shukriya, very much" - A "thank you" in Hindi from the professor arouses more cheers from the crowd. It was the second day of the event that spanned three remarkable evenings. For the common music and art enthusiast in India, this was just a sneak peek into the virgin world of Latin America - something we see and hear only in documentary channels highlighting the rich history or diverse wildlife. Fiesta Latino Americano was the result of a coordinated effort between Indian Council ofCultural Relations (ICCR) and the Embassies of Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

For first-timers like me, this was a window of opportunity to have a closer look and feel of various kinds of music and performing arts from Latin America. Day 1 saw the foot-tapping numbers of Afro-Colombian music for the common man of the city streets, presented by award-winning band "Mama Julia y Los Sonidos Ambulantes" from Colombia. They knew they are performing in front of a totally foreign audience who don't have a clue about what is coming up, and hence took pains to explain their music in English.

Day 2 bloomed with the sweet smiles of Ballet folklorico presented by representatives of the University of Veracruz, Mexico accompanied by Tlen Huicani - a group of musicians in Mexico specializing on regional Mexican music from different states and regions. Viewers were swept off their feet at the amazing level of coordination of the rhythms and the movements of the salsa dancers. Every tap of the foot, every turn of the leg, every twist of the body appeared so much in sync no matter how far on the stage the dancers were, from each other. They presented Ranchero and other forms of music originated from different states of Mexico. A bold move from the male dancer asking the audience to follow his steps counting "ek, doh, teen" (one, two, three) made the audience cheer out loud before joining him.
 After several songs and dances, the professor and his team just took off their colourful traditional shawls, to reveal shining white shirts and trousers.

 To a disappointed crowd thinking that the event just came to an end, the professor explained "Now, we present the music of Veracruz.. we all are from Veracruz. Our traditional costume is all white.. see? white shirt, white trousers, white shoes, and ..mmm...maybe this too!" pointing to his head emphasizing the shining white hair, much to the crowd's joy. In a country where elders (especially the ones with white hair) are openly respected, there was no wonder why we shouldn't stand up and cheer for him. 

The audience were mesmerised on the final and concluding day by "Tango Emotion" the brain child of ace musician and national music professor Enrique Cuttini and his team from Argentina. His Excellency El Ambajador de la Argentina indicated us to "just close your eyes and enjoy the music." The tango dancers elevated the spirits of the audience with their rhythmic moves making sure no one even dares to blink.

Professor Cuttini is a man of small stature and a smile as sweet and innocent as a child. He did not need to ask the audience to clap their hands to the rhythm of the music many times, unlike his predecessors did during the previous days' performances. We were actually clapping hands to the rhythms of tango. Part of the group was an amazing vocalist who walks on to the stage with such ease despite knowing that the majority of us who cheer for him don’t have a clue about what the lyrics say.

The whole exercise taught us Delhi-ites  a valuable lesson – when it comes to music, you don’t always need to understand the lyrics to feel it. Sometimes the feeling the music itself is sufficient.

1 comment:

  1. Beatriz Avalos20:43

    Dear Manu,
    Latin America has a wonderful and impressive cultural wealth. I am glad that you have known and enjoyed some of that wealth. Music and dance of the countries in this region are the result of miscegenation, the result of a mixture of the traditions of Europe, Africa, America and other regions. I hope you someday have the opportunity to learn a little of the rich culture of my country, Bolivia.