CriticalDance Forum

Akram Khan Dance Company
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

<img src="" alt="" />
<small>Akram Khan Dance Company in "ma"
Photograph by SPH - The Straits Times</small>

The Company has a new website, which is cutting edge, as you'd expect:

Best of all there is a page of images of "ma", which whets the appetite of those of us who haven't had the chance to see it yet:

<small>[ 24 August 2004, 05:36 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  CarlyG [ Tue Aug 24, 2004 5:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

I loved "Kaash" and think "Ma" is even better. Saw this on Saturday in Edinburgh.
Wonderful music - most of it performed live on stage from tabla, cello, and voice. Beautifully performed dance around a theme of fecundity - Mother/Earth, and even moments of laugh-out-loud humour.
Most of the small company of dancers appeared in Kaash and now seem even more polished and proficient. Khan appears as an ensemble player with the others but still stuns with his extraordinary speed. Turns out he has a great speaking/singing voice too.
To echo Claudia la Rocco above, If you only see one dance event this year, make it "Ma".

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Aug 24, 2004 7:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Thanks a lot for your comments CarlyG - can't wait for "ma" to come to London in the Autumn.

<small>[ 24 August 2004, 10:19 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Aug 29, 2004 12:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

In a state of suspense
Whether the performers are upside down or dangling from a tree, Akram Khan's latest work is stunning. By Jann Parry for The Observer.

Akram Khan has attracted attention ever since he toured as a youngster with Peter Brook's epic production of The Mahabharata. I saw him in it at Glasgow's Tramway Theatre and have followed with fascination his development into an exceptional per former and choreographer with his own company. Now 30, he's returned to Scotland with his new, large-scale work, ma, in Edinburgh's biggest theatre.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Aug 29, 2004 1:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Spinning out of control
Despite its spirit, Akram Khan’s latest piece passes in a blur, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times.

There was the palpable sense of a big event at the Edinburgh Playhouse last weekend for the British premiere performances of Ma by the Akram Khan Company, which comes to London at the end of November. This is an elaborate co-production backed by a clutch of international arts centres and festivals, with a multinational cast of seven dancers, including the virtuoso Khan himself, and three musicians — a mix of dance, text and eclectic music that is the British-Asian choreographer’s most ambitious venture to date.

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Author:  Ramsay Burt [ Fri Nov 12, 2004 4:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Akram Khan Dance Company, ma, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, 26th October 2004.

Akram Khan's ma represents a progressive shift from his previous pieces. With Rush and Kaash he developed his movement style through his 'confusion', as he calls it, of the classical Indian and contemporary dance styles in which he trained. Formally the structure of these pieces was indebted to Western musical traditions - Kaash was almost a sonata with its three sections, the middle one slow and meditative, the final one a stirring conclusion.

With ma, Khan seems to me to have adopted a more cinematic structure, with a succession of scenes, some short, some longer, some building on previous ones, others contrasting with them. Running through ma are sets of concerns which express themselves either through abstracted movement material or in terms of narrative and symbolism.

Khan plans to make a duet with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; he has clearly had a long hard look at Cherkaoui and Platel's Belgian reworking of Bauschian tanztheater. ma shows Khan taking from this what he wants and 'confusing' it with what is now his signature movement style. The result is a contemporary way of combining movement, storytelling and song that correlates with the traditional Kathak way of telling stories about the Gods through mimed dancing. And whereas Les Ballet C de la B's works have a distinctly urban edge in the critical way they attempt to shove underclass experience in the face of their predominantly middle class audience, the overall ambience of ma is organic and natural. Like 'Kaash' before it, ma situates itself in the intersection between aesthetic values and spiritual experience.

Interestingly, Cherkaoui's Tempus Fugit performed earlier this autumn in the Dance Umbrella Festival shared with ma similar Sufi singing, cello and percussion accompaniment, and upside down poses. Khan however has a very English sense of humour that shows in some little throw away comments or gestures he quietly made while telling stories on stage.

One recurring idea in ma was being upside down. It started with Faheem Mazhar singing in a Sufi vocal style while hanging by his feet with his head only a foot or so from the stage floor. Later Khan told a story about his visits as a boy to his family's farm in Bangladesh when he used to hang upside down in a tree to sort his head out. At another moment when Shanell Winlock at the front of the stage told a story that relates motherhood to growing trees and Eulalia Ayguade interrupted and gently heckled her, both dancers heads were planted on the earth while their limbs spread up like branches.

Another striking pose used in some of the publicity material for the piece shows all the dancers bent over in the same crouch, asses in the air, head to the floor and arms stretched out like wings (almost an inverted version of an iconic moment in Ailey's Revelations). On this level ma seemed to be a mystical, allegorical meditation on the sacredness of mother earth, of trees growing from earth to sky, and of women's power as nurturers. Khan gave his female dancers the central roles in ma.

What is so rare and special about this company is that Khan has found and, for a few years now, been able to keep together and foster some highly skilled young dancers, all of them from P.A.R.T.S. ma was full of movement invention. Arms slashed through space during lightning pirouettes with the devastating precision of a Japanese sword play film. Dancers propelled themselves miraculously in slow-motion backwards hand stands as nimbly as cats. Khan is young enough to share his dancers' passionate desire to perform at their physical and artistic limits, and clever enough to give them the seductive opportunities they crave for while moulding these together into a powerful and resonant piece.

Ramsay Burt

Author:  kurinuku [ Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Akram Khan Company

The Guardian
December 02, 2004

Akram Khan is not afraid of big themes - perhaps because kathak, the south-Asian dance style in which he trained initially, seems to have almost a whole cosmology embedded in its rhythms, gestures and dynamics.

Author:  kurinuku [ Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Ma, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Independent
December 01, 2004

Akram Khan's latest work, Ma, is brilliantly accomplished and very irritating. Khan builds powerful dance sequences, but lets them tail off into posed dullness. He interrupts dances to tell stories, then interrupts those with artful hesitations.

Author:  kurinuku [ Fri Dec 03, 2004 1:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Superior style, superficial impact

The Daily Telegraph
December 02, 2004

When I saw Akram Khan's latest work, Ma, at the Edinburgh Festival, it struck me what a terrifying thing it is to have a rare choreographic talent.

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Dec 05, 2004 12:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Earth moves

The Observer
December 05, 2004

Ma opens with a Sufi singer, Faheem Mazhar, suspended by his feet in semi-darkness. His chanted invocation spills onto the stage to be absorbed into the bodies of dancers, the instruments of musicians.

Author:  Lyndsey Winship [ Mon Dec 06, 2004 9:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Akram Khan Company – Ma
Queen Elizabeth Hall

There are moments when Akram Khan’s new work, Ma, doesn’t quite become everything it promises. But there are also moments – usually when Khan himself is dancing – when gripes like this cease to matter, and all we can do is marvel at the magnificent moving bodies on stage.

Despite the success of Kaash, Khan’s high-profile collaboration with Anish Kapoor and Nitin Sawnhey, Khan clearly had no desire to retread old ground in this, his second full-length work. So rather than rely on the seemingly abstract, quick-fire fusion of kathak and contemporary dance that has made his name, Khan has chosen to broaden his boundaries and introduce more pointed storytelling this time round.

At the heart of Ma is the idea of earth – as a source of life and nurturing, a site of home and memories, as something sacred yet often abused.

Ma has seen some development since its UK debut at the Edinburgh Festival, which is typical of a choreographer constantly questing for new, better and more complete ways to express his ideas.

On a second viewing, however, I found myself less gripped by its drama, and more critical of its shortcomings. For example, the spoken texts (written by Hanif Kureishi) only emerge some way through the piece, first in a short recollection from Khan and then, just before the end, in a poignant but comical yarn from two female dancers. This direct narrative doesn’t fully integrate with the rest of the work. It feels obvious that this is a new direction for the company, who are trying it out for size.

Nevertheless, Ma is accomplished in many ways. It looks fantastic for a start – danced against a lush green glow, with striking (occasionally blinding) lighting from Mikki Kunttu. Lined up at the back of the stage, vertical wires separate the dancers so that each one emerges from their own corridor. It feels as if this piece has been directed rather than merely choreographed.

Riccardo Nova’s music is used to dramatic effect. Deeply influenced by Indian classical music, the Italian composer creates a score that is plaintive, mournful and hectic in turns. In improvisatory phrases, flautist Lisa Mallet (a special guest for the London performances) sets notes floating in still, thin air while in opposition, the runaway percussion sounds like fast feet pounding on hard earth.

Khan’s choreography is still exciting; the torrents of movement full of sharp angles and swift turns accents the beats of the score. The high-impact ensemble pasages are woven with more symbolic sections, when one dancer fights to cover the eyes and ears of another, or the bodies of the cast are piled up in the centre of the stage. Are they dead, or huddling together for warmth? A head lifts at one end and feet at the other, making the shape of a boat. Look again and they seem tangled like the roots of a tree, while a single body is lifted above them, growing upwards. There is much left to the imagination.

Each dancer has their own strengths. Moya Michael, a founding member of the company is best at recreating Khan’s own steely grace; Eulalia Ayguade has a flair for spoken word, good comic timing and a very sweet persona; while long-limbed Anton Lachky brings a stealthy, animalesque quality to the stage.

But it is a whole different ball game when Khan himself dances. He has an energy, urgency and focus that is truly riveting to watch, and as much as he tries to deflect attention from himself (he barely dances for the first 15 minutes or so), you can’t help but be drawn to him. Whether his vision for Ma is completely successful or not, it almost doesn’t matter when the dancing is this good.

Author:  kurinuku [ Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Ma, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Independent
December 06, 2004

As the piece goes on, the relation of step and story gets clearer. We find out why the vocalist sang his first song while hanging upside down.
more in the second part of the linked article

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Soul-seeker doing best to remain out of step

Sydney Morning Herald

Akram Khan laments the state of contemporary dance, Sharon Verghis writes. <a href= target=_blank>more</a>

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Feb 28, 2005 8:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

ma, Akram Khan

the Sydney Morning Herald

The concentration on solos could detract from the piece as a whole, but these are irresistibly dazzling and Khan involves other company members by placing them around the perimeter of the stage as observers. When they do come together as an ensemble, in a mix of synchronised and sequential movement, the effect has added strength.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Akram Khan Dance Company 2003-2005

Dance offering
Uncredited article from The Times

Watching Akram Khan dance is like visiting another planet — one where intellectual conjecture, physical excitement and pure imagination are the ruling gods.

Khan would probably like the idea that his art exists “out there”, because he isn’t the sort of artist who stops at the horizon. Both as a performer and a choreographer, this 30-year-old British dancemaker, who plays to acclaim and sell-out houses in London, New York, Paris and Sydney, is always looking beyond boundaries.

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