Akram Khan/Anish Kapoor/Nitin Sawhney
Rome, Teatro Valle, October 19, 2002
Kaash, performed last October in Rome by choreographer Akram Kahn and his company, was certainly the most significant dance event in this year’s Romaeuropa Festival, which actually used Kahn’s image as this year’s logo.
Kaash (which means “if” in Hindi) is the result of Akram Kahn’s collaboration with the sculptor Anish Kapoor and the composer Nitin Sawhney. Kahn’s choice of collaborators – Kapoor is an Indian-born Londoner, Sawhney and Kahn are British of respectively Indian and Bengali descent - underlines his intent to merge Indian culture and tradition with contemporary art.
Kapoor, whose fascinating stone sculptures can be admired at the Tate Gallery in London, created a very simple set: a backdrop consisting of a panel with an enormous black rectangle at its center. The panel itself started out white, then became yellow, red or blue as the show progressed.
In front of this panel moved five black-clad dancers: Akram Kahn, Rachel Krosche, Moya Michael, Inn Pang Ooi and Shanell Winlock, all of them absolutely extraordinary in technique and coordination. The perfect fusion between contemporary dance and Indian Kathak dance gives birth to a new and fascinating language. The dancers never touch each other; first one moves, then another, sometimes alone, sometimes together, forming geometrical shapes or straight and inclined lines. Their arms are languid, then suddenly explode in frenetic movements.
Sawhney has added John Oswald’s “Spectre” to his own music, specially composed for this show. At times the dancers join their voices to the music, repeating ritual phrases as an accompaniment to their movements.
The whole show lasts less than an hour, during which the viewer is riveted to his/her seat by the pure marvel on the stage.
Kaash was an enormous success in Rome, forcing the powers that be to add a performance to the two sold-out scheduled ones, and, let me tell you, I was lucky to find a ticket. It is one of the most beautiful contemporary-dance shows I have ever seen, and I strongly urge anyone who has the chance of seeing it not to miss it at any cost.