Malaysian and African drummers put together a show

Olivier Tarpaga might be a dancer, choreographer and musician, but he also paints pictures. Not necessarily the brush on canvas kind, but definitely the stuff that half-forgotten memories and dreams are made of.

When he talks about his upcoming collaboration with homegrown percussion group Hands Percussion in Wind Of Nomads, a concert featuring several new works on African and Asian percussion, the imagery comes fast and furious.

“It is about traversing the desert in an old train, it is wide open spaces as far as the eye can see. Think about riding a camel in the desert in the rain. In the desert, everyone smiles when there is rain. What does that sound like, what does it feel like?” he offers by way of explanation when asked about the production.

Wind Of Nomads plays at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur, starting Aug 4.

At its core, Wind Of Nomads delves into human and cultural migration, drawing on the energy that emanates from many lifetimes of searching, exploring, finding oneself. It reflects a journey of discovery, a yearning to find out what lies beyond the horizon.

‘The instruments can all stand alone in their beauty, but in Wind of Nomads, they come together so well, to complement each other,’ says Olivier Tarpaga. Photo: Ban Teng Ruen

“It is about that spirit of adventure, one that you find not just within yourself, but in the soul of the great deserts in Africa and Asia,” muses Tarpaga.

One can almost feel the wind in your hair when he talks this way. Your feet might be weary on this journey, but a heart full of song and hope will get you far.

The award-winning founder and artistic director of West African drum and dance ensemble Dafra Drum is currently based in the United States and is a senior lecturer in Dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a lecturer in the Department of Dance of Princeton University.

Tarpaga, born in Burkina Faso, plays numerous traditional instruments and is an expert of the djembe drum.

Tarpaga, together with…

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