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Rajasthan Rave in Jane Mallett Theatre

For those of you who did not get to see Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan last Saturday, I have but three words for you:

You missed out.

While it was not the extravaganza that I had expected, as there were fewer performers than I had anticipated, quality won out over quantity.

Handsome and charismatic musical director Rahis Bharti, playing tabla, lead an impressive ensemble of musicians. Most noteable was showman Sahid Khan who played castanets, "bhapang" and "morchiang" (what we know as Jaw harps). I have NEVER heard a jaw harp played like that in my life, all without the aid of a computer system.

Dancer Kamla Kumari provided the thrills, and spills (the drinking glass she stood on during the fakir broke). Yet somehow that made the act more real. It was intriquing to see what I took to be the Northern Indian style of dance. It was much more earthy, and perhaps less polished, than the the stylized Kathak dancing that I am accustomed to seeing. Indeed, it was dancing that I know members of the belly dancing community in Toronto would have appreciated, as Kumari pulled some hip moves that were worthy of note.

If I had a major criticism to make it is this: the venue was all wrong. This is not a stagnant show where the audience should sit quietly awaiting for the performance to end and then politely clap. This is a show where people ought to be up dancing, not stuck in uncomfortable seats at the Jane Mallet Theatre. The Lula Lounge would have been more appropriate, if it could have held the numbers needed.

In truth, what this show really needed was a rave and the celebratory nature that such an event inspires, rather than a stark theatre hall filled with staid Torontonians who tend to be too polite to laugh and clap along.

[Dancer: Kamla Kumari; image curtesy of Dhoad Gypsies]


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