Message from the Center: On DakhaBrakha’s Ethno-Chaos

Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 7PM PDT

What is “ethno-chaos”? That’s how DakhaBrakha describes their aesthetic. The term is provocative, bringing to mind the anarchic attitude of punk rock, but chaos is not merely destructive: it can be essential for new creation, the explosive combustion powering an engine of renewal.

DakhaBrakha means “give/take,” and that’s what their brand of ethno-chaos is all about. Philosophically, their music embodies a poststructuralist approach, breaking down styles, reterritorializing foreign timbres into their own vernacular, freely taking from the old and giving something new. They are experimental cartographers remixing the map of world music, spreading Ukrainian folklore while absorbing and metabolizing new ideas, asserting the uniqueness of their traditional culture while championing progressive ideals, boldly exploring primal rhythms and cosmic drones.

We know a thing or two about ethno-chaos here in Los Angeles, the postmodern metropolis that gave the world Korean tacos, the place where the French Dip sandwich was invented in Chinatown. This perpetual swirling deconstruction and recombination of cultures and styles is a source of vitality for our city, just as it is for DakhaBrakha’s music.

By joining us for this performance, you have become a part of this symbiotic process of giving and taking. That’s what the art of performance is all about: the energy shared between artists and audience. The creativity of DakhaBrakha should serve as a reminder that humanity always has the potential to grow in unexpected ways, giving and taking, forming new networks without regard for the barriers that separate us.

Maybe we could use a little more ethno-chaos in our world.

Enjoy the show.

—Andrew Hartwell, on behalf of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance