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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eth-Noh-Tec: Kinetic Storytelling

When I was little, I remember going to a few Katha Kalakshebams - storytelling performance of interweaving music and narration from Hindu mythology.

I used to sit there in rapt attention, jaws hitting the floor when fearsome asuras were quelled by virtuous beings right in front of my eyes - well, mind's eyes at least - while the narrator/performer (Kripananda Variyar, the only one I can recall) unfolded these images in my head through their words and music...

Life took its course and I wasn't a kid anymore and going to katha kalakshebams and other discourses took a backseat.

But today, thanks to her vivacity and talent, Vishaka Hari has brought back the magic for me! I adore her musical interludes - being a trained classical musician her rendition is powerful and evocative; at the same time, her sense of humor and her effort to bring the magic to today's high-tech generation makes her presentation more accessible and enjoyable across generations. Well, seems so to me - at least from the DVDs I have, as I haven't had the opportunity to see her in person.

Enough reminiscing... on to sharing a beautiful experience...

Ana and I were front-and-center at a fabulous story-telling performance by Eth-Noh-Tec, a duo from San Francisco - viz., Nancy Wang and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo - who are absolutely incredible!

Just as a teaser, to give an idea of their style of interlacing music and movement, drawing the audience into telling the story, and their crisscrossing narration complementing each other, here's a short snippet.

We heard three stories from China and Korea. The young and the not-so-young in the audience in the small library were laughing, bouncing, interacting, and most of all, thinking! We learnt a few words and a song in Korean (which I promptly forgot) thanks to Eth-Noh-Tec's power of engagement.

A special Q&A session at the end was great - for, one of the pre-teens asked, "So, are these stories true?" to which they replied, in an ever so elegant way saying, "You see, it was so long ago that it is hard to tell... However, there is some truth to all the stories we hear..." and they went on to distill the essence of the stories which we all took away with us.

Ana and I absolutely enjoyed Eth-Noh-Tec's storytelling! And, we wouldn't miss the opportunity to see them up close again! Their work is inspiring!
p.s: Since the show, Ana has asked me to retell two of the three stories over and over (even on the drive to and from school) and sure enough I incorporated what I could take away of Eth-Noh-Tec's style of narration and it has been an educational and entertaining experience for me as well as for Ana.

Here's a short intro to their first story:

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At 10:20 PM, Blogger Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Sounds like you had lots of fun!

At 4:55 AM, Blogger ChoxBox said...

Awesome Sheels!

Off to check out Vishaka Hari.

At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Poppy said...

Sounds awesome! How talented some people are!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

::Swapna:: Yes, it was fun, plus, their talent simply amazed me!

::ChoxBox:: I feel grateful 'coz this was a "free" show at our library on a Saturday, which made it easier to take this first step forward...

::Poppy::Indeed! I was reading and re-reading their bios and was blown over - especially after seeing them up close and talking to them in person following the show - they were so accessible and warm!

At 7:09 PM, Blogger sathish said...

awesome duo - from whatever tidbit I saw here. my parents and parents-in-law are great fans of visakha hari.

never got a chance to see her live though. but, she is a regular visitor with her stories to blr, hopefully, we will catch her some time.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Funny you should write about Vishaka Hari...she and her parents are very close friends of my in-laws' family and I had the opportunity to meet her a couple of times...before she was married and before she started all of this, of course. She's one talented woman.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

::Satish::how interesting! when my parents visited me to help out with Og's birth, my dad got me her DVDs claiming, "you will love her!" and he was right :)

::Tharini:: How fortunate you guys are! I just play the DVDs when I want my dose of Mylapore culture... btw, remember reading that your in-laws live in RA Puram - where my folks now live! Hopefully our next trips to India will overlap giving me the opp. to meet you and your adorable boys in person!


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