project represents the rebirth of a collaboration which began in
the late '70's and was broken off during the '80's, when Larry Porter
returned to Europe. This time around the emphasis is on combining
different worlds in a way which respects the basic essence of each
world. What has emerged is a unique blend of jazz, Indian raga and
tala, European classical music, ancient Indian poetry and Kathak
dance: an east-west dance oratorio.
from the original program notes:
Tradition tells us that Ravana's devotion to Lord Shiva was so
great, that he created the Indian raga/melody system so he could
sing Shiva's praises. In the SHIV TANDAV STOTRA, Ravana describes
Shiva's power and beauty. Both the fourth and fifth quatrains of
poetry conclude with lists of Shiva's epithets as destroyer ("chidam"
and "antakam"), even destroyer of death itself. Alliteration and
onomatopoeia create waves of sound in this magnificent example of
Sanskrit devotional poetry.
A compelling and complex personality, Ravana is for many Indians
a great hero. It is told that ultimately he went to Lord Shiva to
request MOKSHA, release from the bondage of endless rebirth. Shiva
replied that he had granted Ravana indestructibility from the powers
of heaven and earth, and that Ravana must instead seek MOKSHA from
Lord Vishnu. In this version of Ravana's story, we may view his
battle with Rama as a pretext to attain death and thereby MOKSHA
from the hand of Lord Vishnu incarnate. Ravana's poignant cry in
the final quatrain of poetry - "When will I be happy?" - is one
all humans share in their quest for earthly fulfillment and ultimate
release from its bondage.
also incorporates a type of poetry from the traditional Kathak repertoire
which sounds much like present-day "rap". The poems chosen praise
and describe Lord Shiva and his son Ganesh, the elephant-headed
remover of obstacles.
Hand gestures used in the dance can be read as a type of three-dimensional
hieroglyphics. For example, three fingers symbolize Shiva's trident
weapon, thumb and pointer at right angles are the crescent moon,
cupped hand is a serpent's hood, thumb and pointer joined at mid-forehead
are Shiva's third eye of inner knowledge.
Traditional kavita torah's were taught to Janaki by Nala Najan.
Pandit Patwardhan and Smt. Ritha Devi translated the SHIV TANDAV
– dance & recitation
Marjorie Johnson – vocal & recitation
Larry Porter – piano
Sieverts – bass
Paul Leake – tabla & recitation
(choreography by Janaki Patrik, music by Larry Porter)
Cooper Union Great Hall, New York, Nov. 22, 1991
JANAKI PATRIK has been a disciple of India's renowned Kathak
dancer, composer and choreographer Pandit Birju Maharaj since 1967.
Her recent studies with him and research into the poetry of the
Kathak dance repertoire were supported in 1988/89 by a Fulbright
Senior Research Fellowship. She studied choreography, technique
and repertory at the Merce Cunningham Studio from 1971 to 1978,
supported by a five year scholarship. A founding member of The Kathak
Ensemble in 1978, Janaki performs and teaches in the United States,
Canada and India and is active in the field of arts-in-education.
LARRY PORTER, jazz pianist and composer, is a founding
member of The Kathak Ensemble, with whom he played sarod and rebab
in their first season. Now based in Munich, Germany, Larry plays
regularly in European jazz festivals and clubs with his own trio
and has played with such jazz luminaries as Thad Jones, Chet Baker
and Art Farmer. His "Vergänglichkeit", based on a poem by Hermann
Hesse, won a prize in the 1990 Cologne competition for jazz chorus
PAUL LEAKE lived in Asia from 1967-78, studying languages,
philosophy and the arts of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He studied
tabla in Nepal with Prof. Kali Prasad Sharma and in Calcutta with
Ustad Keramattulah Khan. A founding member of The Kathak Ensemble,
Paul also accompanies classical Indian vocal and instrumental music
and composes music for video, fusion and jazz.
MARJORIE JOHNSON studied harmonic singing and overtone chanting
with David Hykes in New York City and worked as a vocalist with
David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir. She studies North Indian classical
vocal technique with Sheila Dhar and the vocal repertoire of Kathak
dance with Janaki Patrik.
HENNING SIEVERTS, a native of Berlin, Germany, has studied
cello, bass and composition. He now lives in Munich and works as
a jazz bassist with various European groups. His January '91 Australian
tour with the Peter O'Mara-Mike Nock Quartet was followed by a February-March
stay in New York City, where he played with various jazz groups
including those of Craig Handy, Valery Ponomarev, Pete Yellin and