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Review, 8-27: Funk Bird
Cat Dragons & More from Dha Fuzion
By Peggy H. Cheng
Copyright 2002 Peggy H. Cheng
NEW YORK -- At the first
of five lunch-hour performances presented by the Battery Dance Company's
21st Annual Downtown Dance Festival, Dha Fuzion, led by Akim Funk
Buddha (Artistic Director Akim Ndlovu), drew the crowd at One Chase
Manhattan Plaza in with sounds and styles aimed at the group's self-described
"new urban mythological musical." Dha Fuzion is a group of musicians,
dancers, and dancer/musicians sharing the stage and storytelling,
unfolding a few of their world tales in the hopes that this lunchtime
journey into the imagination serves as a journey to the creative
self as well. The idea is if you find your creative self, you will
do better for yourself and others.
Dha Fuzion is in fact
a visible and audible fusion -- of people, styles, sounds, cultures
-- and it stands to reason that each member is distinguished in
her or his sound and movements. Chikako Cat Dragon (the creator
and executor of the "Cat Dragon" Style) tap dances, drums and sings;
Sister Mami (Mami Nakae) dances in birdlike fashion and drums; Angela
- all serpentine and twisty with Eastern-influenced limbs - undulates
and slinks, often beside the B-boying lyrical dancer Hypno.
All the time narrated
and moved along by Akim Funk Buddha's song, dance, and words, the
group travels first through an introductory song into a fable about
a bird that danced in a family's garden, magically causing plants
to grow and food to appear. Pretty soon, the audience has been asked
to give their requests for the bird to dance-up some food, and then,
inevitably, the audience members end up on stage dancing with the
bird, and all the other characters of the tale. With a special nod
to the youngest members of the audience, as well as to the site-specific
"Wall Streeters," Dha Fuzion's aim seems to be to bring in the audience
through simple tales told through a multitude of sounds and vibrant
A highlight of the program
was most certainly the Tapping Dragon -- none other than Chikako
Cat Dragon herself. First arriving underneath a dragon costume,
Chikako eventually reveals herself to be a swift and sure tapping
dragon in, of all the footwear out there, the challenging geta.
Geta are defined as "a Japanese wooden clog with two transverse
supports under the sole, worn outdoors" in Webster's Dictionary.
After trading-in the geta for tap shoes, Chikako taps and converses,
or taps verses, with the drummer, and then Ndlovu, in a dueling
dialogue of rhythm that pleases and heightens the audiences mood
even further. Soon enough -- it was bound to happen -- the tapping
duel is fused with yet another layer of stage combat in the tradition
of a martial arts duel, including nun-chuks and a sword.
Seemingly ever a crowd
pleaser, Dha Fuzion's finale includes dancing with giant fans, music
that continues to sound the world beat, a few spectacular lifts,
and a warm invitation to join them if you have not already.
Downtown Dance Festival
performances are outdoors and free, and feature a different dance
company on each day of the week (through Friday, from 12:15 to1:30
p.m. at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (enter at Cedar and Nassau).
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