Mythology Permeates Dance Landscape

By Berardi, Gigi | Dance Magazine, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Mythology Permeates Dance Landscape


Berardi, Gigi, Dance Magazine


KALI
BEHNKE CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY
PERFORMANCE
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
JUNE 1-4, 2000

The world premiere, presented by Seattle's On the Boards, of Kali, an experimental opera using stories and images from Hindu mythology, brought together a world renowned international cast. Kali is based on a libretto by the famed Indonesian writer Goenawan Mohamad, with music by Jarrad Powell and Tony Prabowo. It was produced via a series of collaborative exploratory workshops in Indonesia and the United States. The title comes from the Hindu goddess Kali, a figure in Hindu mythology who embodies torment and transformation.

Both the music and the movement for the opera were inventive. The piece opened with the musicians producing sounds with rocks that resembled a gurgling stream. Onstage, two sets of musical instruments flanked a black, angled platform. Fine-mesh panels made of lustrous filigree draped the stage. All the elements of the scenic and lighting design worked well together. The sidelights were positioned to project shadows on the walls to resemble the fighting armies that the singers spoke about. The operatic prose, delivered expertly by tenor John Duykers, mezzosoprano Kathryn Weld and vocalists Jessika Kenney and Musliwardinal, advanced the story about death, gods and slaughter.

Kali is rich with texture--from complicated rock sounds to the breathing of the dancers to the bowing of the gongs--all of which were considered part of the music structure.

Originally planned to be a collaborative effort with an Indonesian choreographer until supporting grant money fell through, Mary Sheldon Scott from Seattle saved the day and choreographed all the movement for the opera. …

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