Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cervantino 2014: Two Festival Jewels

Many Cervantino events I remember for years have taken place in the smaller spaces. This year is no exception. I came out of the Cervantes walking on air after watching the dance company Tumakka't DAnza Contemporanea perform Rua de Lavradio, named for a street in Rio de Janeiro. Afterward, everyone I
 knew was smiling except for one sober-faced fellow who turned out to feel the same way as everyone else.

dance photos courtesy of FIC 42, G. Morales
The Festival commissioned the work from choreographer Fernando Melo, born Brazil but who lives in Europe. The dancers in the troupe hail from Mexico, Venezuela, Panama and Cuba and Belize. Mauricio Ascencio of Mexico City working with Melo, created a set of five planks that the dancers used first one way and then another.This multi-talented guy also designed the costumes and the lighting.

Altogether, a lucid, colorful performance, adding up to fifty minutes of pure pleasure and for sure a jewel in this year's Festival crown.

Ohnishi combines an American hairstyle with her habit of bowing.
Photo courtesy of FIC 42, Christa Cowrie

In the Salon de Consejo of the University the audience listened to the Japanese musician Takae Ohnishi play music from France and contemporary pieces by composers of Asian ancestry. She played suites by Louis Couperin (1626-1661), the the uncle of the other Couperin and by Antoine Forqueray (1671-1745), interlaced with a piece by the eminent 20th century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, whose work is familiar to Salon audiences;  the Cervantino program describes him as one of the authentic sound poets of our time; Rain Dreaming comes from one of his less experimental periods.

After lulling us into a meditative state with the French pieces and the first movement of a work by Lei Liang,
Ohnishi cut loose with the jazzy, contemporary rhythms employed in the rest of Liang's piece and in the short pieces by Machiko Asaoka. I'll never listen to a harpsichord again without forgetting these other possibilities.

Tadae Ohnishi is one of many musical border crossers. Born in Japan, she now lives in San Diego and tours her homeland.

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