The Diary: Philip Glass's Satyagraha; World Book Day; Tamasha; Cirque du Soleil; Darcey Bussell

Trance music – but not as we know it

So hypnotic is the score of Philip Glass's opera, 'Satyagraha', that in its dress rehearsal stages, the English National Opera's chorus found itself falling into a mesmeric state and were "encouraged to stop" singing after becoming near hypnotised by the repetitions in the Sanskrit libretto. Roland Taylor, the ENO's director of media and participation, said he fell into a similarly "mellow" state while watching the show. Mr Taylor, who as the former interactive editor of the Proms dreamt up the idea to invite audiences to bring in their ukuleles for a memorable jam session last year, has now injected the same spirit of audience participation at the Coliseum. On Sunday, the venue will open its doors to anyone with a musical instrument who fancies creating a 20-minute jam session across the Coliseum's foyer and bar areas. Glass apparently approves of the plan (although the jury is out on whether he'll turn up with his ukulele) while Nitin Sawhney's tabla player is turning up, among others, for the Satyagraha (Remix).

Enduring magic

The thought that the 'Harry Potter' series should be most Britons' book of choice to "pass on to the next generation" is a slightly depressing one. Yet that is what bears out in a survey to mark World Book Day. The stories of the child wizard are followed by Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?' (a question and answer book put together by bods at 'New Scientist'). There are a few more original inclusions in the top ten, such as Barack Obama's autobiography and 'The 9/11 Commission Report'.

A writer with drive

The Asian theatre company Tamasha (from which the film 'East is East' was spawned) is gaining a reputation for its new writing programme, which currently includes Ishy Din, a taxi driver by night and writer by day, whose play 'Snookered', partly inspired by the overheard stories in the back of his cab, is to be staged as a work-in-progress at the Gate Theatre in London this month. The company has staged 19 new plays in 21 years and has supported many British Asian artists from the start of their careers.

Circus stars roll up for African legends

The cast of Cirque du Soleil turned out in Manchester to see Oumou Sangare and her celebrated band from Mali, who were travelling around the UK after a rapturous night at the Barbican as part of the 'African Soul Rebels' tour. One acrobat from Cirque even brought along his djembe (African drum) and had an impromptu djembe lesson at the end of the show with the Sangare's iconic djembe player, Cheikh Oumar Diabate, a legend in his own right. Sangare's act was accompanied by the wonderful Orchestre Poly-Rythmo, a member of which accidentally forgot his shoes in Basingstoke. They have, apparently, followed him around the country, but have still not been re-united with their owner, such was the speed of the UK tour, which came to an end two days ago.

New role marks a sea change for Darcey

What is a prima ballerina to do after retirement? There are TV options, such as a stint as judge on 'Strictly Come Dancing'. But what does life hold for Darcey Bussell beyond the box? A post as the first ever godmother to P&O Cruises, of course. The artist Fletcher Sibthorp has been commissioned to create a portrait of Bussell to display on board the latest "superliner", 'Azura'. Bussell has been named as 'Godmother' and will take centre stage at a glittering naming ceremony. The portrait will hang in the ship's atrium, above the dance floor. Glamorous, though it's not quite Covent Garden.

a.akbar@independent.co.uk

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