Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950
The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.
While music may be the “food of love”, poetry represents the eloquent beauty of language and its expression. This past Friday, August 19th, Silambam Dance Company brought these two art forms, along with traditional Indian dance, together to produce Kāvya: Poetry in Motion.
Though the average new audience member, much like myself, came expecting a lovely show of traditional Indian choreography and music, we were instead presented with a performance of text, music, and dance from all over the world. A wonderful surprise indeed.
As I strode into box #2 at downtown Houston’s MATCH theater, I was instantly aware of the buzz of friendly conversation, women in beautiful sari’s, and couldn’t help but feel as if I was walking into a lovely family gathering, immediately transported to a world in which I knew something special was about to happen.
Once the stage faded to black, and the last seat was taken, the evening began. The performance was broken into 6 main sections:
Perhaps, the section that touched me the most was Wanderlust, mainly because of the poem by Millay, cited above for you to read. As the different poems were read, dancers in sari’s of every color graced the stage. In addition to the beautifully crafted choreography, a scene was acted out, further enhancing the music and text. Overall, the collaborative production created a somewhat abstract performance left to each audience member’s interpretation.
Although this dance company is made up of a majority of amateur and young dancers, Silambam expertly crafted a multicultural program that people of all ages could appreciate. In fact, one of the dancers I really enjoyed couldn’t have been much older than 11 or 12! She danced with the spirit and feeling of an artist much more her senior, I am sure due in large part to the education and artistic programming of the company’s staff.
As the evening went on, the air was filled with text recited in Spanish, Sanskrit, English, and more. All in all, it was a lovely experience to hear poems, that we all know, spoken in their native tongue. Or as many would say, the way they were meant to be heard. And although I do not speak these languages, the music and dance delivered each message articulately, sending a wave of goosebumps at the culmination of each piece.
Although most Houstonians are fully aware of the city’s rich diversity, many would say the most diverse in the country, those outside our metropolitan region are just becoming privy to this information. Arts organizations like Silambam are not only helping to celebrate the culture found within our city, but producing works that will help bring notice to our inventive and collaborative art community. Many people will say that I am a great cheerleader for H-Town. However, I really just feel like I advocate for things, people, and places I believe are producing a product that mesh with my beliefs and as a result help to bring necessary innovation and change to the art world and beyond.
As I sit here I can still hear the sound of the Ghungroo bells and am reminded of the transcendent experience and performance Silambam expertly pulled off.
For more information on Silambam’s season of productions: www.silambamhouston.org
P.S. Did you think I forgot about cocktails? :)
Because Kāvya: Poetry in Motion was only an hour, no intermission was included. So this round I went for pre-concert cocktails, down the street from MATCH, at Double Trouble Cocktails and Coffee. I chose the "Perfect Paloma", quite perfect indeed. Not only did it cool me off from the horrendous Houston heat, but tasted delicious! If you are looking to try a cocktail equally as delicious and refreshing, but don’t own a blender or margarita machine (the PP was frozen mmm) like moi, try out my recipe below.
Drunken Pamplemousse (AKA grapefruit) Soda Recipe:
Makes One Cocktail
½ Fresh squeezed Pamplemousse juice
2 tablespoons water
½ cup Pamplemousse La Croix
Shot of Vodka
In a small saucepan, combine the juice, sugar, and water. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Make sure to stir frequently so the sugar does not burn! Once thickened let cool for an hour. In the meantime, take a pretty glass and stick it in the freezer to get frosty. If you have a fridge that will crush ice for you, great! Otherwise, crush it the best way you know how. To prepare cocktail, combine 1 tablespoon of your Pamplemousse simple syrup, crushed ice, a shot of your favorite vodka, and sparkly La Croix in a cocktail shaker and shake what yah' mama gave yah’. Finally grab your frosty glass, filled halfway with more crushed ice, pour the cocktail and garnish with a lemon wedge. Voila!
Until next time! I'll catch y'all for cocktails at intermission.
Photography by Veer Surapaneni