I’m catching up on my databasing at the StoryBooth in Lower Manhattan when the drumming begins. I try to focus on the work at hand, but when the StoryBooth windows fill with vibrant moving color, I smile. Lifting my eyes slightly above the computer screen I’m treated to a performance of the ritual dances of Bhutan. Captivated, but not surprised, since one never knows what to expect when stepping into the little world of Foley Square.
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 impart moral instruction or illustrate teachings. The masked performers are always male and usually monks.
Two dances are performed this day: Tum Ngam, the Dance of the Terrifying Deities, and Shanag Ngacham, the Dance of the Black Hats with Drums.
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Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located amid the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains, bordered on the South, East and West by India and to the North by China.