Natya Dance Theatre performs with acclaimed Cellist Yo-Yo-Ma  
- S Kulkarni 

July 21, 2006 


The renowned superstar Cellist Yo-Yo-Ma opened a year long celebration of cross cultural events in Chicago, USA as part of the Silk Road Project with a memorable performance at the Pritzker Pavilion in the Millenium Park on June 26th. Yo-Yo- Ma along with some of the finest musicians and dancers presented a 90 minute performance which transported the audience to that ancient trade route. 

It was a moment of great honor and pride for Chicago's Natya Dance Theatre to appear with Yo-Yo-Ma, the most acclaimed Cellist of our time. They performed two pieces specially choreographed for this event by principal dancer Krithika Rajagopalan. In "Yanzi" (swallow song), which is Kazakh and Chinese in origin, Yo-Yo-Ma played melodiously along with a soulful vocal rendering by Wu Tong of Beijing, which was transformed into visual poetry by Krithika Rajagopalan. She was later joined in a duet by Natya dancer Emma Draves as they performed with graceful movements to this love song. Following this was "Koyal" where nine dancers danced with exuberance and joy portraying the flight of the bird Koyal. Yo-Yo-Ma joined all the musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble to accompany the Bharatanatyam dancers in this piece which brought the audiences to their feet in a thunderous applause. 

The evening commenced with a welcome song on the Sheng, a Chinese mouth organ played by Wu Tong who was later joined by the Silk Road Ensemble musicians who gave a great start to the evening. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quartet performed Venetian Canzoni by Giovanni Gabrialli of Venice. Yo-Yo-Ma played variations while the violins and viola played recurring melody in a piece called "The Gallop of a Thousand Horses" by the Iranian Composer Kaylan Kalhor. Sandeep Das, acclaimed Tabla player from New Delhi took the audience through an exciting improvisational spell in "Tarang." The exchange between the violins and percussions with contrasting shift of rhythms was like a humorous conversation. 

Despite the heavy thunder showers earlier in the day, 13,000 people thronged to enjoy the scintillating music and dance from the far away places along the Silk Road, and left the audience wanting for more.