Diasporian News of Thursday, 11 January 2007

Source: Graphic

Kusum Ensemble Stirs Up Estonia

Kusum Gboo Dance Ensemble made history last Christmas by being the first African group to perform at the famous Midwinter Night’s Dream Theatre Festival, held in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

Kusum Gboo has been hailed for performances that have tremendous emotional power, depth and sensitivity. Performing at the Salme House in Tallin, the group went into a state of ecstasy as loud drums and well-crafted bodies moved and "floated" on stage.

Notwithstanding the sub-zero temperatures (warm by Estonian standards), the group took the capacity audience by storm with invigorating traditional dances that are highly expressive and infectiously compelling.

The group’s classic dance piece Somu, choreographed by the late Richard Danquah and Stephen Osono, kept the audience at the edge of their seats with its intricately woven movements set against frenetic pounding of drums.

As the twenty-five minute piece progressed, it became evident that the fusion of Ghanaian traditional and contemporary movements may create a new synthesis that can effectively communicate to diverse audiences.

Earlier, Kusum Gboo performed a theatrical piece titled Sogbolisa, a folk tale about the creation of the world and man.

Accompanied by talking drums and interspersed with folk songs, the group relied heavily on the style of linguists or village elders who often relay messages from chiefs to residents.

“The performance was terrific – positive emotions constantly flowed out of the stage and engulfed the whole auditorium.

I am completely overwhelmed by the energy exhibited by the artistes”, said Mairold Metsavui, a timber merchant in Tallinn.

“I am really delighted to see a performance that is full of energy – it reminds one of the diversity of cultures and traditions all over the world”, continued Katrin Karisma, an actress/singer in Tallinn.

"A wonderful show that was full of exciting and swift movements - the colourful costumes are as impressive as the dance pieces", added Dr. Raimond Leitou, a dentist from Cologne, Germany, who was in Tallinn for the Christmas holidays.

The festival, which was organised by the Tallinn City Theatre also witnessed high rate performances by theatre groups from Estonia, Russia, Japan, Iceland and Ireland.

Indeed, a one-man theatre show by the Japanese master Issei Ogata, whose rich repertoire include over 400 scripts, swept the audience off their feet with prolonged cheers that culminated in a standing ovation.

In a calm manner, Ogata conjured hilarious and damaged characters through monologues and "dialogues", revealing in the process various aspects of contemporary Japanese life.

The Fru Emilia Theatre from Iceland, which featured the virtuoso actress Harpa Arnadottir, presented a hilarious play titled A Hundred Year Old House while a Russian group from the School of Dramatic Art showcased a collaborative creation that elicited cheers.

Since its inception in 2000, the Midwinter Night's Dream Festival has hosted diverse groups from various parts of Europe and Japan.

The 2006 edition also marked the centennial celebration of professsional theatre in Estonia.