DakhaBrakha means “give/take,” a fitting name given the Ukrainian band’s self-proclaimed “ethno-chaotic” approach of breaking down styles and adapting foreign timbres into their own national vernacular.
When Russia launched their attack in late February, DakhaBrakha were on tour within Ukraine, with international dates scheduled. While they had to cancel their Ukrainian shows, the decision was made that, as unofficial ambassadors for Ukrainian culture on the global stage, it was important that the world tour go forward. We are so pleased to be able to welcome them back to the Theatre at Ace Hotel on April 24 to share their unique take on Ukraine’s musical and theatrical folk traditions.
DakhaBrakha’s art points beyond the seeming deadlock between cultural pride and internationalism, beyond the dichotomy of traditionalism and cosmopolitanism. Experimenting with instrumentation from Indian, Arabic, African and even Russian music, they reterritorialize the world’s sounds into a distinctly Ukrainian vernacular. At a time when Ukrainian culture itself is under attack, with theaters, libraries and museums targeted by the Russian military, DakhaBrakha embody a large-hearted, aspirational openness both to their own traditions and to the shared cultural goods of humanity, reminding us that when a museum or a historic building or other cultural site is destroyed in Ukraine, or anywhere else, the whole world is poorer for it.
Giving and taking, the feedback loop between audience and artists, is what live performance is all about. Even with their country under attack and their loved ones in danger, the dedicated artists in DakhaBrakha continue to give us their own synthesis of folk traditions, inspiring us to take away a sense of international solidarity. Their “ethno-chaos” is a reminder that all cultures and all peoples have the potential to grow and connect and to find surprising resonances without regard for the barriers that separate us. This openness to the outside, to valuing what we share over what divides us, is what will, in the end, defeat the machinery of domination that threatens to tear us apart.