Jelaté is a word that could belong in many languages, but is actually invented: a composite. It’s a rhythm, an invocation, and a prayer, rising from many different musical styles and traditions.
Jelaté is a world groove inspired by bhangra and the Afrobeat music of Akim’s South African childhood. It incorporates beatboxing, percussion, vocal styles from Africa and India, Tuvan throat singing, and beyond. Dancers interpret the song in gestures, each expressing the images in their own unique way. Jelaté invokes a meeting of cultures, a yearning for peace, building bridges, not walls.
We will use video recordings of the individual performers, shot in isolation, but ultimately coming together and virtually interacting in a shared on-screen space. The video will not shy away from acknowledging our state of separation during COVID-19, our feelings of solemnity and sadness. Yet it releases a powerful energy, arising from encounters in digital space, that allows us to find connection, harmony, and joy in the colors of our diversity.
Your contributions will fund the edit of the video and associated production expenses, and allow us to share the project with a wide audience. Thank you for being a part of this endeavor.
This project is being produced under the auspices of ARCADIA PICTURES LTD, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated under the State of New York. Your contribution to Jelaté will be tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Our performers include:
Dancers in video campaign:
Chihiro “Cute-Beat” Kobayashi
Jessica Ho (Twilight)
Akim Funk Buddha - lyrics & vocals
Rima Fand - vocals & violin
Bashiri Johnson - percussion
Michiko Takatani - vocals & keys
Priya Rajagopalan - vocals
Phueksachard Buranapim - drums
Kapa Tanabe - guitar
Kenji Tokunaga - bass
Don Godwin - engineer
Photo by Kaya Bailey
My work is about bridge making and myth breaking. I use the dance-theater form to break barriers—between disciplines, cultures, races, “high” and “popular” art, eye and ear, creating borderless performance art that fuses sounds and movements from different genres and invokes a broad spectrum of cultural traditions and artistic disciplines. The artforms I have studied and taken inspiration from include Mongolian throat singing, Balinese Baris dance, Japanese tea ceremony. I’ve been fortunate in my collaborators, including distinguished artists like Bill T. Jones and Tea Master Ryotaro Matsumura. I’ve performed my own full-length dance-theater works in temples of high art (Kennedy Center, Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, BAM), and avant-garde venues (LaMama, Dixon Place, PS122, Blue Note). I’ve taught in prisons, schools and monasteries, opened for Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder. I continue to joyfully explore the urban and contemporary scene with my collaborators in hybrid works that reflect our immersion in ancient performance traditions.