There’s something for everyone at Thailand’s largest showcase of international performing arts
Andalusia-based Antonio Andrade Flamenco Company made its debut appearance at Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music on September 22 with “Torera”, a new work that had its world premiere earlier this year in Malaga. This was a rare opportunity for local audiences to watch what our Spanish counterparts are also watching and applause goes to the festival’s programmer for taking a risk.
With influences from other genres, the music wasn’t entirely traditional; likewise, the strong presence of, and the dramaturgical meaning of, the bull character, interpreted by Brazilian artist Akin Santos, made this very different from other flamenco performances we’ve seen – a real treat for both ears and eyes. One setback was the fact that, except for the opening scene when the dancers were in the auditorium’s aisles, the entire performance was behind the proscenium arch, which because of the Thailand Cultural Centre’s large forestage, reduced the work’s impact.
Last Thursday, Swiss illusionist Peter Marvey made a return to the festival after five years with “WOW: World of Wonders”. Before the performance, Tony Hassin, president of International Magicians Society (IMG), was onstage to present the Swiss master with the Merlin Award for Most Original Illusionist of the Century. Later, Marvey’s wide array of tricks lived up to the show’s title and his new award, and “Wow” was among the audience’s favourites of this year’s festival.
His strong interest in levitation or flying was explained in the introductory video and evidenced in many acts including the grand finale “Icarus”. His spectacular acts with large props had a strong impact on all and Marvey charmed with his accented yet fluent Englishlanguage conversation with the audience. Plus, he invited – and he knew how to pick them in accordance with the nature and restriction of each act – men and women, adults and kids, on to the stage to experience his tricks, one of the most stunning of which was called “Three-card match”. In “Strongest Girl”, “Not too much,” he politely asked a goodlooking and physically strong audience member who seemed to be more than a volunteer participant. His strong and beautiful three dancers, or contortionists, served well as his accomplices and our distractions. His technical director was also deft in using the forestage area to make sure that Marvey’s acts, except those that should not be, were always close to the audience.
Now that the festival’s teenage years are almost over, it’s more difficult to please everyone. One festival fan was heard questioning if this has become festival of dance and magic; another wished Marvey had made a tuk tuk fly the same way he did a chariot in Zurich and Tokyo, as seen in the introduction video. That said, in a time when boundaries among performing arts genres have already blurred and our festival continues to be more diverse to attract a wider audience, performing arts may be a good substitute for dance and music in the title here.
The 19th Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music is made possible through the kind support of Crown Property Bureau, Ministry of Culture, Bangkok Bank, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, B Grimm Group, BMW, Dusit Thani Bangkok, Indorama Ventures, Nation Group, PTT Group, Singha Corporation, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways International and Thai Union.
Last four programmes
- “Bangkok’s 19th International Festival of Dance and Music” continues to October 19 at the Thailand Cultural Centre. Tonight, don’t miss Malandain Ballet Biarritz’s “La belle et la bete”. - This weekend, the international touring production of Broadway musical “West Side Story” is back in town. The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra takes the stage on October 14, and Stuttgart Ballet’s “Taming of the Shrew” on October 18 and 19. Tickets are from Bt1,000 to Bt5,000, at www.ThaiTicketMajor.com.