Tabla, Taiko, and Contemporary Dance meet at Swarthmore College, Oct 5

Drum and dance traditions from all over the globe combine this Fall in the premiere of ARC, a multidisciplinary performance suite conceptualized by tabla artist, composer, and artistic director, Lenny Seidman. Presented by Swarthmore College’s Lang Performing Arts Center, this original work melds North Indian tabla, Japanese taiko, and a hybrid of contemporary Western, South East Asian, and African Diasporic movement into one evening-length event that is not to be missed. ARC will be presented at no cost and for one night only: October 5, 2018 at 8 pm.

Conceptualized by tabla artist, composer, and artistic director, Lenny Seidman, ARC investigates the tension and synergy existing between tabla and taiko—the thundering taiko drums offering a dynamic contrast to the quieter, complex rhythms of tabla. The accompanying choreography pulls vocabulary from Filipino folk styles, Afro-Caribbean, West African, Hula, Hip-hop, Odissi, Vogueing, and Postmodern.

To bring the work of ARC to life, Seidman enlisted the talents of eight highly-distinguished co-creators: tabla artists Daniel Ando Scholnick and Jonathan Marmor; taiko artists Joe Small, Kristy Oshiro, and Isaku Kageyama; and movement artists Laurel Jenkins, Orlando Hunter, and Ani Gavino. Together, the artists created ARC over the course of a three-week residency at Swarthmore College, living and working together to build the piece from Seidman’s early sketches. What resulted from their residency is an intimate, electrifying, and cross-cultural performance that convenes an array of forms, styles, and disciplines.

The inspiration for ARC arrived in 1999 when a six-week collaborative residency inspired Seidman to explore how his instrument, tabla, could interact with both taiko drums and such movement traditions as Korean shamanic dance and the court dances of Thailand. Noticing how taiko provided space to utilize the large palate of musical textures, tones, and harmonies inherent in tabla practice, Seidman began to see the potential of the two disciplines more deeply.

Nearly 20 years later, ARC is fully realized as a powerful example of intercultural and creative collaboration. Viewers will witness the seemingly disparate practices of tabla, taiko, and the various movement traditions coalesce into its own kind of language—one that transcends cultural boundaries and charts new artistic territories. Family-friendly, culturally significant, and soul-stirring, ARC promises to be an affirming and enriching experience for viewers of all walks of life.

“For me, ARC is the culmination of 25 years of applying tabla to various intercultural contexts,” says Seidman. “The artists on the project represent so many different disciplines and traditions. They’ve truly poured themselves and their disciplines into the work—it’s amazing to witness. I hope this project serves as a catalyst for artists and audiences alike to investigate the ways that art can bridge gaps between cultures.”

ARC comes to Swarthmore College’s Lang Performing Arts Center on October 5th at 8 pm. LanPerformingng Arts Center is located at 500 College Ave, Swarthmore, PA, 19081. This event is free to the public. Seating is first come, first served.

photo credit: Bob Sweeney

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