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Akram Khan Company

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 5 April 2004What many try to do, he just does. Akram Khan, the young Anglo-Indian choreographer, seems to explode spontaneously on stage, releasing a communicative life-giving energy.

His first full-length work, Kaash, created in 2002, and modified since, begins the moment you step into the auditorium and see the spectacular backcloth by the celebrated painter Anish Kapoor. Kapoor has created a void, an impenetrable black rectangle with blurred edges that covers most of the back of the stage. As the work begins, a single dancer comes on stage and, back to the audience, stares motionless into the darkness before a woman joins him, leaning forward to whisper in his ear.

We soon understand that we are watching the end of the work as it begins to move backwards ingeniously. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.

The dancers form a single, dynamic column, moving simultaneously but differently, their arms slashing and pulverising the air, faster than light. At first, you watch Khan himself, mesmerised by the visual beauty, grace, and emotion engendered by his slightest gesture, but then your eyes are drawn to the other four dancers, clearly inspired by their leader to great heights.

Akram Khan Company
Akram Khan Company: Kaash
© Photo: courtesy of Akram Khan


A central, slow, almost meditative section followed, where a girl threw herself on the ground, undulating as a serpent, writhing, animal-like, yet always neat and precise. At this point the music of Nithin Sawney, which had kept up a constant dialogue with the choreography, gave place to the harshness of the dancer's breathing, the decor behind her seeming almost alive, the edges trembling and oscillating.



Shiva's creation/destruction aspect was an inherent part of the work, Khan agreed after the performance; it was full of the symbolism of the Indian Gods, with the grace of the deer confronting the power of the tiger. There was, he said, much improvisation, often based on the Kathak dance forms he had presented earlier in his traditional programme.

Akam Khan is stunning in both. Moreover, the young troupe he has formed, with two dancers from South Africa, one from Spain, and the fourth from Malaysia, their average age not more than 22 or 23, is one of the most exciting contemporary dance groups around at the moment..

Akram Khan was awarded the Critic's Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography for 2003 in London on 13 January 2004


Please click here for an interview with Akram Khan


Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She contributes to The Observer and Dancing Times. Ms. Boccadoro is also the dance editor of Culturekiosque.com.

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