Dream Day Concert June 24
By Yi Ching Ku
Dreaming through Dance and Music-
A Celebration of our Indigenous Culture
The Dream Day is a part of a fund-raising project for a group of Fujen University students from 7 of Taiwan’s Indigenous tribes to attend the biggest festival of American indigenous tribes – Pow Wow in Oregon and San Francisco, California this very summer.
The event was hosted in Red Room, Taipei The night was a celebration of diversity, of different cultures, different roots.
The room was already buzzing with excitement, with performers in indigenous costumes amongst the crowd getting ready in vibrant costumes, with the unique patterns of their tribe. On the table lay a dazzling array of traditional food, such as sticky rice steamed in bamboo and wild boar rice dumplings. It was already a wild stimulation of the senses before the show even began.
Our Red Room Muse Tina Ma gave a spoken-word performance on the power of music, dance and story-telling to pass on the stories we’ve inherited from our ancestors. Barefoot, with a garland of green leaves on her head, Tina took the stage, looking like a nymph emerging from a mystical land. She began her performance by singing an old song from the Native Americans: “I am walking beauty, beauty is all around us.” In her piece, she praised the beauty and wisdom of nature and our deep connection with it. From the rattlesnake’s husk to the feathers of eagles from the east and the west, she reminded us that the stories of nature are ours to live and tell. These are the stories that have shaped our identity and our very being.
We also got a taste of India when our Red Room friends Tracy and Rajat performed two Indian folk songs (Bhawaiya nad and baul music). Rajat sang and Tracy played the moon guitar.
No sooner had they begun, their music found its way inside us. Every cell in our bodies was moving in unison with the rise and fall of the melody and our breathing became the very rhythm of the music.
The entire audience was transported to another realm.
There was something hypnotizing and sensual about the high orbiting notes that resounded like the purest yet most luscious form of language.
The melodious sounds seemed too beautiful for our mortal ears, yet they echoed deeply within us. It seemed to bear witness to the power of art and music that transcends time, space, language and culture.
Undoubtedly, the music formed different landscapes in each individual’s mind, whether it be a pastoral scene, a distant memory or the face of a loved one – but there was a sense of serenity that permeated the room, putting us in a divine trance that transcended the inconsonance of reality.
The leader of the project and experienced performer Mulinung Taliladang graced the stage with her voice as strong and passionate as the sweeping wind that echoes through a deep valley; ethereal, as it lingered on every rock and tree. “Vuvu ataqedu” (Sleep Tight, my Grand Child) was a lullaby sung with such impact that moved us profoundly, like our hearts were suddenly awareness of something much greater than ourselves.
The evening was also an extraordinary concoction of traditional harmony and contemporary acoustics. The combination of a soaring a capella followed by band instruments infused the compelling indigenous Taiwanese music with the sound of the 21st century. It was a delight to see these young creative minds revitalizing their culture and making new sounds from the old.
The evening ended much too quickly. The last performance was a moving dance piece that told the journey of this very group of young students, finding their identity and connection with their culture. The dancers started by running on stage in regular T-shirts, looking lost and boggled down by an invisible pressure, until they each found a piece of clothing from their tribe, picked it up and hastily put it on. Each began to call out in their individual tribal tongue, and they moved together in one, like a wave determined not to be swallowed by the swelling ocean. It gave rise to the question of how to keep indigenous culture and identity alive in this big urban melting pot, where we are lost in the humdrum routine of everyday life, and where minorities became even more marginalized.
The night of music spirit culminated in the style of traditional indigenous communal dance where the entire audience got to their feet, held hands in a large circle and joined in the dance that symbolizes union and oneness. As we, the audience stumbled to our feet and struggled to keep up with the rhythm, we realized that we are in one with this beautiful culture that is so intrinsically a part of us and our land.
Photo and videos courtesy of 李庭萱 and other Red Roomers.