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 Post subject: Akram Khan
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:00 am 
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Press release

Akram Khan was awarded a coveted position in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreographic laboratory PARTS in 2000. Later that year he won ‘Outstanding Newcomer to Dance’ Awards from both the Dance Critics Circle and Time Out. The Dance Umbrella favourite is fast developing a world-wide reputation for his beautiful and compelling dance works.

Loose in Flight is a stunning solo that blends Kathak with contemporary dance. Rush
is a purely abstract work for three dancers inspired by the sensation of watching paragliders in freefall. The fascinating and exhilarating quintet Related Rocks completes the programme. Originally commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, it is performed by the full company: Akram Khan, Rachel Krische, Moya Michael, Inn Pang Ooi and Shanell Winlock.

http://www.dansoffice.co.uk/

In 1999 Akram Khan was the winner of a Jerwood Choreography Award.
He is currently Choreographer-in-Residence at the Royal Festival Hall.
“there’s a phenomenon on the dance scene and his name is Akram Khan” Evening Standard
“startlingly original and beautiful… a truly astonishing fusion of talents” The Observer

<small>[ 10-26-2002, 05:39: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Akram Khan
PostPosted: Sun Sep 08, 2002 10:42 pm 
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GRIPPING AND STONE-SMOOTH
by Donald Hutera


Born in London to Bangladeshi parents, Akram Khan brings a thrilling modern expression to the precision, speed and gestural vocabulary of the classical Indian dance form of kathak. As a child he trained in this venerable classical Indian dance form, only later embarking on a serious study of contemporary dance. By dynamically blending two movement paths into one he’s garnered critical acclaim, a slew of awards and an ever-expanding international reputation as a talent to watch and nurture.

Khan’s Umbrella programme brings together the stunning solo Loose In Flight, the trio Rush and the quintet Related Rocks. At the latter work’s London premiere the expansive virtuosity of Magnus Lindberg’s score, played live by the London Sinfonietta, sometimes overshadowed the dancing. Seen later in Birmingham, to a pre-recording, Khan’s complex yet crystal-clear movement patterns were better able to dazzle the audience sans distraction.

Rocks is hot and cool, at once gripping and stone-smooth, and as much about stillness as speed. The dancers, Khan included, respond to the shimmering extravagance of Lindberg’s music as if whipping something out of themselves, yet with such clean attack. Their motion, intermittently expressed in unison and canon, seamlessly weaves together multi-level gestural abstractions. Their playing field is a white stage floating in darkness, and lit by Aideen Malone in such a way that the dancers sometimes appear like musical notes on a staff. To carry on with that analogy, these Rocks sing out both high notes and deep tones.

How did Khan tackle the Lindberg music? “It’s beautiful, but very tough,” he says. “It’s hard to put something close to it and not be drowned out. I wanted to know what was in his head when he was composing it. His concept was the creation and destruction of the piano.

I immediately clicked with Shiva.” That god was the key to Kaash (a Hindu word meaning ‘what if’), the full-length dance Khan premiered Early in 2002 and which he made in collaboration with composer Nitin Sawhney and sculptor Anish Kapoor. Rocks was its starting point.

As Khan goes from strength to strength, he and his company are averaging more than a hundred performances a year. “And we’re booked up for the next two years,” he says. “I’m very grateful, but I’m trying to control the momentum. Before I had nothing to prove, it was more exploratory. I feel under pressure now because people are expecting something miraculous. It’s like I’ve jumped from the first to the tenth step.” Given his breakneck schedule, how does he keep healthy? “Performing is non-stop fitness, but plane journeys are excruciating and jet lag’s a real problem. Whenever we do a long tour I make all of my dancers and the technical manager go to a physiotherapist or osteopath. I’m going to try homeopathic medicine next.”

Does he have much chance to keep abreast of what others are doing in dance? “I try to see as much as possible. It all informs my work. You use it as a tool to help you find your own identity. But I’m really quite clear about what I’m after.” He’s quite happy to speak about things other than the pursuit of art. For instance, how does he unwind? “That’s always a problem. I like to go for a meal or to a jazz bar, like Jazz Cafe in Camden Town. I used to go to Southall with my parents as a kind of outing. It’s a ‘little India,’ with Pakistanis, Bengalis, Gujaratis and mostly Indians. If I need to get bells, instruments or costumes, I go there. And for the food!”

WHO: AKRAM KHAN COMPANY
WHAT: LOOSE IN FLIGHT / RUSH / RELATED ROCKS
WHEN: THU 24 - FRI 25 OCT
WHERE: QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL
TICKETS: 020 7960 4242

_________________
This interview was posted by Stuart Sweeney on behalf of Donald Hutera and first appeared in Dance Umbrella News.

Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance and arts for The Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Magazine (US) and Dance Now. He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.

Join Dance Umbrella's mailing list to receive future editions of Dance Umbrella News.
Call: 020 8741 5881
Email: mail@danceumbrella.co.uk
Web: www.danceumbrella.co.uk


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 Post subject: Re: Akram Khan
PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2002 2:41 am 
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Location: London
Akram Khan Company
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Thursday 24 October, 2002


I have seen Akram Khan, the man rather than the company, in the past and was mightily impressed by his dancing – the genre, the choreography and the dancer himself. I find his brand of ‘kathak’ - the dance that originated in northern India and Pakistan – mesmerizing, utterly graceful and thoroughly modern. The ‘kathaks’ were storytellers who gave religious and moral instruction in narrative form. Over time the storytelling content lessened and the dance form focused on music and rhythm. Khan has developed that further by interweaving contemporary dance and the result is a modern, minimalist approach to dance where every movement counts. Unfortunately, the programme selected for this year’s ‘Dance Umbrella’ season did not enthral me in the way I had expected. One formula was repeated in three separate works with the only distinguishing feature for each piece being the number of people on stage. “Loose in Flight” is a twelve-minute solo by Khan, “Rush,” the longest work at thirty minutes, is for three dancers including Khan and “Related Rocks” is a twenty-minute ensemble piece for the full company of five dancers.

In each piece the same motif stands out: a body contracting and collapsing on to the floor, a shoulder making the first contact with the ground, rolling over on the back to the other shoulder and then flipping up on to the feet through the momentum of the roll. The first time this happens it is impressive and arresting. When repeated ‘ad nauseam’ it begins to pall, like using a ‘big’ word over and over again: the first time it amazes and then it becomes commonplace language that no longer impresses.

Akram Khan always impresses, of course. The fluidity of his body is breathtaking and when this man spins or pirouettes (there is no word that accurately portrays the other-worldliness of his rotations), he, and you, are taken to another dimension. The arms look like the wings of a hummingbird beating a thousand times a minute. The loud exhalations of air that accompany the beginning of his solo ‘Loose in Flight’ and which open the musical composition by Angie Atmadjaja, sound like a mysterious subterranean creature venting spleen. This establishes an atmosphere of shadows and demons without any actually being depicted on stage. Unfortunately the solo never really ‘gets going.’ Kathak is blended with contemporary dance (as per the programme) but the two do not truly fuse. Another twelve minutes would have served to develop the piece into something memorable. One twelve-minute slot is nowhere near long enough to explore the subtleties of Kathak and synthesise it with contemporary dance. I am not familiar enough with the dance form to ‘get it’ in twelve minutes. My companion wondered if he was missing something in the symbolism. “It’s abstract,” I informed him. (I am thinking of Wayne McGregor’s contemporary collaborations with the Royal Ballet and Sheron Wray’s fusion of jazz dance with contemporary dance.)

“Rush” builds on the solo and could easily be an extension of it. The lights go down after the dancers appear, their backs to the audience. A haunting rattlesnake-like noise is heard from the blackness and then the lights go up to reveal that the dancers have turned towards to the audience. It is a clever way of turning conventional “they’re on, so lights up” technology on its head. The dancers are rooted to the spot, swinging their arms and drawing us in to their world. Every thing Akram Khan produces is mysterious and so compelling for the western audience that laps up eastern and oriental philosophies and their methods of expression. I hope the fact that he is so much in demand and so booked up for tours does not deprive him of the time to fully develop that gift straight from God that he surely has?

Moya Michael and Inn Pang Ooi do not have the other-worldliness of Khan, his Kathak prowess being, without doubt, innate. Yet they are excellent dancers and if they stick around the master, we can expect them to acquire the same prowess.

“Related Rocks” irritated me in the beginning because a recorded Magnus Lindberg is chatting away about his musical score of the same name and, whilst it certainly helped to hear about Lindberg’s inspiration for the percussion-dominated piece, it distracted me from what was happening on stage. Maybe the problem was that the speakers were better suited to Wembley Stadium: it was just too loud. Khan’s choreography for the piece is good and does justice to the eminence of the musical score while the five dancers danced their hearts out. So much seems to have been put into ‘what’ they are doing, however, that how they interact as a group is overlooked. At times I saw five individualistic performances of the same steps going on and I felt that everyone and no one caught my eye. So much better does William Forsythe deal with dozens of dancers on stage all performing something similar but subtly different. You want to fix on one dancer and come back for another ten performances to make sure you gave each and every dancer proper attention.

One should never miss the opportunity to see Akram Khan dance but I look forward to seeing a different programme next time.


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 Post subject: Re: Akram Khan
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2002 2:10 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Article on Akram Khan in the FT.

Quote:
Akram Khan, remarkable dancer, is the "choreographer in residence" at the Festival Hall. A welcome fact. Khan is one of that second generation of artists who have so justified the work during the 1970s and 1980s of the London Contemporary Dance organisation. Modern dance as artistic and social means for the broadest range of creativity: that was what Robin Howard dreamed of when he started his pioneering work.
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 Post subject: Re: Akram Khan
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2002 2:18 am 
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Posts: 3129
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review in the Telegraph.

Quote:
Into a generally effete British contemporary dance scene, Asian culture injects colour, bravura and a sense of spiritual urgency, and to see Akram Khan and Shobana Jeyasingh within the same week in Dance Umbrella promised treats.

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