French Guianase tap dancer finds his art ‘similar to Kathak’

Jodhpur, March 8 (IANS) The nuances of tap dance bear resemblance to Indian dance form kathak, except for the fact that it is more “open” as no religious figure is worshipped while tap dancing, says French Guianese tap dancer Tamango.

Saying that his understanding of Indian classical dance form kathak is “shuffle step”, Tamango, who was here on his debut India visit to perform at the World Sacred Spirit Festival last month, explained that tap dance is jazz dance form but it also has similarities with kathak.

“I understand Kathak as ‘shuffle step’, it’s not a phrasing that has an image of a spirit. Like Odissi has the gods and goddesses, animals (in its steps)… Tap dance is jazz, which means we are totally inclined to absorb any rhythm that comes to our ear,” Tamango, whose great grandfather was from India, told IANS.

In Jodhpur, Tamango collaborated with Khamaicha, Indian tabla artistes, to regale the audience — and it is his USP that wherever he goes, he fuses his art with the place’s local culture.

Stressing that timing is an important element in tap dancing, Tamango said: “What is most important is the timing of the dancer. You will be judged by your timing because in the masses, not all of them have ears and not all of them have eyes, which means you have to be able to make sounds which are on time for the blind, and visually as well have to be on time for the ones who don’t have ears,” he said.

“The dancer has to keep all that in mind just like an Indian dance such as kathak. So, it’s a little similar except that tap dancing is more open because it doesn’t have a figure that needs to respected. We learn to shuffle step. We have to balance on both left and right,” added the dancer, who performed here at the festival wearing a a wooden mask.

Talking of his India visit, he said: “India is a mythological experience in my head. I never wanted to come to India as a tourist. I am not a commercial person. I didn’t come to look for my lost soul. When I came, I came to meet people, simple people, where I am from we are the same.

“I don’t go looking for the extraordinary. I came so late to India because I think you go to some place when you are ready. For me, it didn’t ‘mean’ anything, although I love the Indian history, the history of the gods and goddesses, and the people, who built India,” he added.

(The writer’s visit was at the invitation of the festival organisers. Kishori Sud can be contacted at

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