While the dancers and musicians are entertaining with their precision and hypnotic rhythms don’t expect any of them to crack a smile. This show is performed with all the determination and sombre sincerity of Sōhei monks training for an imminent battle.
The energy required is witnessed by the sweat shining on every performer’s body during some highly effective and meticulously timed drumming and dancing sequences. One highlight is a single drummer centre stage with one massive drum elevated directly behind him and several drums in front of him. What transpires is an exposition of rhythm and energy reminiscent of Keith Moon at his sweaty, exuberant best only this is done with all the concentration of a Buddhist approaching nirvana.
The story of Meeting with Bodhisattva relates the spiritual journey of a man and warrior as he explores his inner self and the world he inhabits in the search for his own holistic wisdom. While the story line is an old one, the performance is an expression of “total theatre” and the drumming, dancing, musical accompaniment (bells, gongs, flutes and strings), choreographed movement, songs and chants is anything but old – it’s downright spellbinding. Interestingly, there are times when the show resembles a Native American ‘Pow Wow’.
The ending of Meeting with Bodhisattva is a sight to behold. Performed and greeted in absolute silence a dozen dancers in white frocks simply twirl on the spot with the only sound coming from the pitter-patter of their feet until one by one they stop and gently fall to the stage leaving a single dancer twirling until lights out.
A huge applause erupted from the audience out of the silence. All 16 performers stood in a straight line across the stage and bowed with a deeply humble respect as the audience intensified their ecstatic appreciation.
Meeting with Bodhisattva is a formula that meets the promise made for itself and it’s audience. The show is a favourite of Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier and no wonder!