Photos of Mango Cherry Mix by Amar Khoday

Mango Cherry Mix
Navtej Johar & Hiroshi Miyamoto


Mango Cherry Mix is a collaborative dance work choreographed and performed by Navtej Johar (India/USA) and Hiroshi Miyamoto (Japan/Canada). It is an interracial duet between two Asian men, who seek to explore their cultural selves—their differences and similarities—in the presence of a "familiar" other. Eliciting a sympathetic examination of the self by the other, the work seeks to gradually eliminate or diminish the power of an objectifying eye of the other. Traditionally both cultures are rigidly structured around the philosophical and spiritual possibility of an ambiguous "emptiness," a shunya or Zen as a core experience; yet both employ different, if not diametrically opposed methods to evoke and protect this experience.

Mango Cherry Mix tries to locate these cultural experiences within the modern context. Both dancers have lived in the East as well as the West. Both appreciate traditional and contemporary forms of dance. Both still gravitate towards their respective "essential" cultural experiences, yet seek an autonomous balance as perpetual outsiders both home and abroad


Choreographer's Note:

In Mango Cherry Mix Hiroshi and I attempt to suspend and even stretch the moment of respectful distinction between our two cultures. It was a very considered decision on my part to work with an Easterner. A Japanese I trusted would be like a “familiar other” who would be the outsider yet understand and be familiar with the subtleties of our Eastern preoccupation with the aesthetic-spiritual experience, an ambiguous experience that is paradoxical and can be arrived at only through suggestion. Like most of my works, at the core of Mango Cherry Mix too are a padam and a thumri, to me the padam/thumri most eloquently express our human truth. Whereas I tried to delve into the historicity of the thumri, Hiroshi moved into the padam with a silence of a respectful outsider. I strongly feel that because the padam deals with a liminal condition of a seeking heart, it needs to be framed if not protected between strong counter points. Thus all my works frame the padam or thumri within dual trajectories, in this case India and Japan, with the hope that a space may open in-between for the paradoxical experience to arise. To me the making of Mango Cherry Mix was a hugely satisfying because it not only opened that in-between space for us but also allowed us to stretch its suspenseful silence, I guess it was due to the very Zen quality that Hiroshi brought to the enterprise.