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Dear Friends of Lingalayam,


It was around 1997 that I first heard Riley Lee play the shakuhachi at a private function hosted by the Art Gallery of NSW – my senses were mesmerised. His virtuosic handling of this ancient instrument, and the hypnotic clarity of the music that ensued, was not something I could either place or associate within the Australian artistic scene, of that era.


When I next came across a concert by Riley I was very intrigued to discover that he actually collaborated and played with taiko drummers. Now how does a musician who caresses you with his music translate those notes to resonate with the powerful rhythmical sounds that emanate from the taiko drums - well it was a perfect partnership, one that honoured and respected the traditional roots of their music while still allowing their individual artistic practice to grow. 


A seed must have been planted somewhere at the back of my mind that many years ago, and as they say dreams will take root and materialise when the time is right. And so in 2010 I approached Ian Cleworth, Artistic Director of TaikOz with a proposal for Lingalayam and TaikOz to collaborate. More than a little sceptical at our initial meeting, I think what surprised Ian most about my proposal, was that I had a very clear visual picture of the artistic vocabulary of this collaborative partnership. A good many discussions later an outline for the collaborative partnership began to form and in 2011 the first stage of creative development funded by the Australia Council for the Arts saw the two companies come together to create ‘Chi Udaka’.


Needless to say there were many challenges; but it was also greatly inspirational -and a lot of fun! - weeding out the uniting factors of these two ancient art forms and melding them together. Stage two in 2012 funded by Arts NSW gave us the opportunity to complete the work. For me personally it has been a very gratifying journey collaborating with Ian Cleworth and in turn TaikOz. There are many facets to Ian; a highly skilled musician and a technically brilliant composer, with that rare ability for creating a score perfectly suited to the artistic work at hand. Most importantly, he has instilled his innate passion for percussion and especially taiko, in his company of drummers. The mostly original musical score written by Ian and Riley for ‘Chi Udaka’ has inspired a choreographic vocabulary like you have never seen Lingalayam deliver! 


Informed by the forces of nature, Chi-earth and Udaka-water, unites the deep earthiness of taiko drumming, the flowing sensuality of Indian classical dance and the shakuhachi of Riley Lee with an overlay of classical Indian overtones on the cello by John Napier and vocally by Aruna Parthiban. Thus, earth & water form the core theme of this collaborative partnership, where separate entities are formed and transformed, creating a kaleidoscope of aural-visual energy, which can be identified as moving configurations. These constantly changing formations create lines and shapes of movement vocabulary that synthesise to form music in dance or dance in music. 


TaikOz and Lingalayam are delighted that ‘Chi Udaka’ in association with the Seymour Centre will have its premiere at the Sydney Festival over 3 nights , 16th to 18th January 2014. To view a short excerpt taken at the second stage of creative development and booking details go to: .


We look forward to your presence in the audience as we bring you our most challenging and sensuous collaboration to date! 



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