AMONG THE highlights of the upcoming Baboró children’s festival is the pulsating music and dance production Globe which has been put together by bodhrán-virtuoso Robbie Harris and Dave McFarlane.
Globe is a theatre of cultures and a celebration of rhythms which are universal to music, dance, and singing in almost every culture. A heart-pumping, acrobatic spectacle, the show features brilliant individual performances and the combination of different instrumentation, movement, and percussion from around the world.
Blurring the line between performer and audience, the show features 10 world-class performers, who trade and fuse their music, dance, percussion, and singing skills to achieve an extraordinarily original, fresh, and energetic spectacle that challenges you to remain in your seat.
Globe features Punjabi drummer Johnny Kalsi; Congolese guitarist and singer Niwel Tsumbu; samba from Brazilian dancer Kelly Baldonado; South African singer Nono Madolo; Spanish flamenco from dancer Bernardo de Barros; Japanese taiko drummer Kumiko Suzuki; and the Capeoira styling’s of Brazilian dancer Adelson Maia. The cast also includes Daire Bracken on fiddle, Robbie Harris on bodhrán, and Seána Davey on harp.
Globe is the result of a four-year collaboration between its creators, Robbie Harris and Dave McFarlane. Bodhrán player/percussionist Harris has recorded and performed with Bobby McFerrin, Clannad, The High Kings, Brian Kennedy, Hector Zazou, Theodosii Spassov, Mamady Keita, and the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan. He has also toured extensively with Riverdance and is the co-director of the Big Bang Festival of Rhythm. Harris explains how Globe came about:
“Dave and I had been putting together a lot of shows in the corporate world, things like doing the drumming at Irish rugby internationals, and through those we met a lot of other performers,” he says. “I’d always wanted to do a full-scale production and this year we were able to make it happen. Seven of the performers are based in Ireland so that helped in assembling the show. We did the show last month in Liberty Hall in Dublin and it went really well.
“Globe is a celebration of our commonality. We create pictures onstage. We place these different rhythms and dancers together that you wouldn’t usually see combined, for example a bodhrán player with flamenco dancers.”
How does the show go about blurring the line between audience and performer as it claims?
“Audience involvement is a key element,” Harris replies. “It’s a participatory show, we want people to come along and get involved. The show builds up to a finale where there are 400 percussion tubes involved that we have handed out to the audience, so you have these instrumental virtuosos onstage but that’s not as powerful as the sound coming from hundreds of people in the audience. It’s a way of welcoming people into the world of music.”
It has been said of Harris the performer that he has “transformed the bodhrán from leaden pace-maker to a time-capsule of infinite possibilities”, how does he feel about that observation?
“The bodhrán is the heartbeat of Irish music,” he declares. “For a long time it was quite a simple instrument but then in the 1970s people like Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh and Donal Lunny added a whole new level of modernisation.
“It’s an instrument that is now evolving and becoming more sophisticated. I always had an ear for things like Indian and samba rhythms. That’s the idea of global rhythms, they can be similar but each have their own accents, like with languages.”