Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cham! Ritual Dances of Bhutan Pics

A couple of weeks ago I posted (here) about Cham! the Ritual Dances of Bhutan that were being performed around the city presented in association with the Rubin Museum of Art. They performed at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, but I didn't catch them until later when they performed in Battery Park on the 19th.

These performances correlate with the
The Dragon's Gift, a new exhibit on sacred art from Bhutan at the Rubin (organized by the Honolulu Academy of Arts). There are monks in residence at the museum, although they are from a separate monastery than those who performed the dance ceremonies.

It was truly incredible and, as you can see, I snapped a few shots. I couldn't believe how quiet downtown Manhattan had suddenly become as they performed to only a tambourine and a drum.

This description comes from the flier that was handed out at the performance:
Cham is the ancient ritual dance of Tantric Buddhism that has been preserved and performed in Bhutan for centuries. Performed at special religious festivals, the dances typically impar moral instruction or illustrate teachings. During performances, both the performers and audience members accumulate merit. The masked performers are always male and usually monks. Here, the monks of the monastic fortress of Trongsa perform two common examples of cham. The dances feature wrathful deities that destroy evil demons. As in much of the art on view in The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan at the Rubin Museum of Art, wrathful forms of deities personify tantric techniques of transforming greed, ignorance, pride, and other spiritual poisons--demons we all possess and that stand in the way of our reaching enlightenment.
Around the City, the monks performed two separate dances, Tum Ngam (Dance of the Terrifying Deities) and Shanag Ngacham (Dance of the Black Hats with Drums). I only got to see the former. I will post more information from the flier about these two dances in the next post, and maybe something from my visit to the Rubin.

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