Special report: International Dance Festival 2009 in Chiang Mai
Plans still seem to be in a state of flux for this – not unusual – but most posters and flyers indicate that there will be free performances at Airport Plaza this Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 7 pm, plus additional performances there and at the Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center and Museum, and at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi. I’ll try to keep you informed with updates to this newsletter. The Oplas Teatro Company of Umbria, Italy, with its performance of “Touch”, seems particularly interesting. Yesterday (Wednesday) the sponsors told me: “There will be free public performance by “Touch” on 22nd March, 2009 @ Central Plaza, Chiang Mai Airport between 17:00 – 19:00.” Probably on the ground floor, near the glass elevators. That’s this Sunday.
In addition, “Touch” is scheduled to be performed the next day, Monday, March 23, at the Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center and Museum, which is in the large, elegant white building just behind the Three Kings Monument. Free public performances and free workshops are scheduled there from 4 to 10 p.m.
The dance is a duet between two men, Mario Ferrari and the Thai Weerasak Prateep Na Thalang, and apparently this video was taken quite recently as the two were rehearsing for this tour.
On Tuesday evening, March 24, the festival has scheduled “The Last Silver Crane,” at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi at 7:30 pm.
“The Last Silver Crane” is a blend of Thai contemporary dance and khon directed and performed by Israel's Ido Tadmor, with music by Sinnapa Sarasas, accompanied by Ravibandhu Vidyapathy, a leading percussionist from Sri Lanka; also performed by Julachart Arunyanak and (from Thailand) May Yimsai. A collaboration between performers from Thailand, Israel, and Sri Lanka.
For ticket reservations call the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai: +66 053 888-888.
And finally on Wednesday evening, March 25, I have found out from posters that there will be a free performance of "Gershwin Fantasy, USA" at Airport Plaza, “at around 6 pm.” This free performance, as well as the other free performances on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 and 22 (5-7 pm) will be held, they tell me they are now thinking, in the public space on the ground floor beside the glass elevators, or nearby at the little stage they have in front of the grand staircase up to the first floor, or near the aquarium.
“Gershwin Fantasy, USA,” is by Janice Martin, a versatile opera singer, musician, dancer, and aerialist from the US. Martin, a graduate of Julliard School of Music and Indiana School of Music, first received attention as a classical solo violinist. This presentation been described as a 90-minute show that Janice performs with her three piece band, based on the music of George Gershwin, but re-imagined for her virtuosity. “This show breaks all the rules in a kaleidoscopic mix of musical styles, characters, humor and illusion – and, most wonderful of all, a dazzling display of consummate artistry on violin, piano, voice, and aerial dance.”
You can see a teaser of the show by clicking http://www.janicemartin.com/videos_gf.htm
So, the tentative schedule:
Mar 21-22 @ Central Airport Plaza Free public performance from 5 - 7 pm.
Mar 22 @ Central Airport Plaza “Touch”
Mar 22 @ Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center Public performance and free workshops at 4 - 10 pm.
Mar 23-24 (25?) @ Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center Master classes conducted by choreographers from 11 a.m. - 4 pm.
Mar 23 @ Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center “Touch”
Mar 24 @ Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi “The Last Silver Crane,” at 7:30 pm.
Mar 25 @ Central Airport Plaza “Gershwin Fantasy, USA” probably around 6 pm.
The Nation: Ongoing until March 25, the world's leading dance troupes show off their best moves in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket as part of International Dance Festival 2009.
“The past eight festivals have played a part, along with other dance activities in Thailand, in showing to the general public that contemporary dance is not that difficult to understand—for me, it’s easier than classical ballet,” says Vararom Pachimsawat, the director of the Friends of the Arts Foundation and artistic director of the festival.
“Also, this experience has opened up the perceptions of local dancers and choreographers of many generations. Many have realized that in order to be a good dancer you should never limit yourself to only classical ballet or jazz dance and even stage actors join dance workshops—they know that all genres of performing arts are interrelated.”
The shrinking economy has shrunk most cultural events, but not the International Dance Festival. The ninth edition of the fest has attracted more of the world's top troupes than ever before.
“It is our ninth year organizing this festival and we have more cultural partners [various foreign embassies and cultural institutions]. Over the years, the outdoors stage has had technical limitations, and some participating artists wished that some of their performances staged indoors in the theatre.”
“Of course, there remain many free events. That’s a goal of the Friends of the Arts Foundation – to promote performing arts among the general public.”
“The focus, as always, is on [various styles of] contemporary dance, rather than full-scale classical works like ‘Swan Lake’. We’d like to stimulate the audience, especially the younger generations. In fact, classical works are beautiful, but you need to think along when you watch contemporary dance—what they’re doing on stage. This reflects what’s actually happening in the world of dance today—the number of truly classical companies drops every year partly because of limited state funding. With this in mind, we should support our individual artists to work as freelance artists who are all-around and willing to collaborate with others.”
The doyenne of Thailand’s contemporary dance picks out a few highlights:
. . . “[An] exciting work is ‘Touch’ by Italy’s Oplas Theatre [March 22, 23]. They’ve been rehearsing here since last month, and just recruited a young performer from Phuket, who’s never had formal dance training yet with natural dance talent, into their production and will go on a European tour with them. Although I watched their performance on DVD, I was stunned by their creativity and athleticism when I saw them dance on high stilts in rehearsal.”
A new work is born out of last year’s festival, “The Last Silver Crane”, a collaboration of Israel’s Idan Cohen; Thailand’s contemporary dancers May Yimsai and Olivier Vinkler, Khon master Julachart Aranyanak; and Sri Lanka’s percussionist Ravibandhu Vidyapathy. Vararom says, “After last year’s festival, Ido Tadmor initiated this idea of working with a Khon dancer, and I suggested master Julachart as he has had experiences in intercultural collaborations.”
Plus, the participating dancers and choreographers will conduct master classes at [the Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Center, Monday and Tuesday, March 23 and 24]. Varorom says, “… the festival is not a commercial event and the foundation is first and foremost education-based.”