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 Post subject: Akram Khan & Sylvie Guillem
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:45 am 
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Quote:
Adventures on the dance floor
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegraph

In Sacred Monsters, which premières at Sadler's Wells on September 19, they not only dance, but also speak. Alone on stage together, they describe themselves as embarking on a journey which examines where they have come from – and where they are heading. Hence Guillem's amused discovery of her masochistic tendencies. "When I saw Akram on stage I already knew that his energy was completely different to mine, so I knew that I was already going somewhere that I didn't know and it was going to be physically painful.

published: September 9, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:33 am 
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Quote:
An infinite number of stories to dance
by PETER ASPDEN for the Financial Times

He almost gropes his way towards explanation. It is a journey, he says. It is about childhood. And finally: “It is about our false sense of perfection. You can only create an illusion of perfection. And that is what the classical training that both of us went through was all about, hers in ballet and mine in kathak [the Indian classical dance form].

published: September 17, 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:32 am 
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A dance friend of mine saw "Sacred Monsters" last night and was deeply impressed. However, the run at the 1500 seater Sadler's Wells was sold out 2 weeks ago. Check with the theatre about queueing for returns on the night or ring up and cross your fingers - one might have come in just as you call. You'll have to be flexible about price as top seats are £40 - Sylvie doesn't come cheap!

theatre details here:

http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats_on/20 ... sylvie.asp


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 5:55 am 
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Clement Crisp wasn't too impressed with this programme (now there's a surprise) but enjoyed Akram Khan's Kathak solo - who wouldn't?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/f8b76e02-49d6-1 ... e2340.html


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:57 am 
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I absolutely agree with Luke Jennings' review here. Sacred Monsters on the whole was disappointing but there were moments of gorgeousness and fabulousness when Khan & Guillem danced together. As he puts it, i wish they'd focused on "the flirty collision of two thrilling talents". Yes. Standing ovation all round of course, cos it's Sylvie but personally, I much preferred Zero Degrees and the Maliphant work respectively.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:11 am 
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With a couple of reservations (what a slow start) I enjoyed this programme very much. Guillem talking to the audience was a novelty and she revealed a whimsical streak very much at odds with the tough temperamental persona that the media has given her over the years, but I agree that the best things were Khan's Kathak solo and their beautiful linked duet, for me not so much mating cobras but Narcissus gazing down at his mirror image.

Guillem pulling her limbs into position every time she moved reminded me of something and I just couldn't think what, but they showed "Men in Black" on the telly a couple of days later and I realized where I'd seen those moves before - the alien bug that couldn't fit into his human skin! Wonder if the similarities were deliberate?


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 Post subject: SACRED MONSTERS 23 September 2006
PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 6:49 am 
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Kathak means to tell a story and so with Sacred Monsters an autobiographical story is offered. Presented at Sadler’s Wells 23 September 2006, Sacred Monsters is an autobiographical telling from dance artists, Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan revealing what it is to be perceived as and to perceive “Sacred Monsters”. Program notes and the dance work itself offered many metaphors and meanings for Sacred Monsters. Essentially though, underlying these given understandings, this work affords the audience a glimpse and the artists a performative space to illustrate in verbal and non verbal text perspectives on individual processes to achieve ideals of perfection; what it is for a life given to embodying ideals. We are offered instances, reminisces and significant epiphanies within the lived experience of these artists, in which questions are posed as a response to crisis or contemplation of these ideals. Sacred Monsters is a conversation with the audience as witness, at times silent or with muted responses and at this performance giving a standing ovation for the artists’ particular kind of dialectic regarding their livelihood. A dance work of self inquiry, self indulgent perhaps, maybe even self congratulatory but not without integrity and honest revelations to be considered by all those who give a life time and aspire to achieve comparable ideals of perfection.

Program notes advise of the several meanings of Sacred Monsters, given to “stars” by the adorations of audience and media but as Guillem explains, the stage is her Sacred Monster; a space in which her classical training and status enables her to be perfect, divine, in the words of Martha Graham, an Acrobat of God living up to her own and everyone else’s extraordinary expectations. The audience’s and the artists’ own adoration of their feats of grace though is only part of the conversation. A dichotomy arises as Khan explains when classical training becomes both the point of reference and a space to differ; “the classical world offers you tradition, history; discipline, something very sacred and spiritual” while his contemporary experience offers a “science laboratory” where he can explore numerous possibilities. Khan relishes this in between space, “the middle” where he can be enlightened by his lived experience as a phenomenal Kathak exponent and contemporary dance practitioner but only if he dares to allow himself to be free. In Sacred Monsters Khan contemplates possibilities, how he can span the gap; to not do what is expected. Khan’s inquiry sources out answers to transform and transcend. Sacred Monsters answers not with bravado or virtuosic movement eccentricities but with eloquently spoken text and specially honed movement that responds to pertinent questions posed in the conversation between Khan, himself and the audience.

The musicians’ position is downstage right. The set designed by Shizuka Hariu, is white and rippled resembling paper mache. A suspended portion begins over the heads of the musicians who are positioned downstage right and stretches as a flag would from stage right to stage left. A larger portion sits stage left on the ground and is concave, the deepest hollow facing the audience in a somewhat downstage right angle. A gap exists between these two portions, on the ground and in the air providing a visual metaphor for this dance as its protagonists seek an inbetween ness to reflect, experiment and refine.

The dance opens with Phillip Sheppard sitting stage left with cello laid on its side in front of him and a violinist, Ailes Sluiter is positioned just upstage of Sheppard. Guillem stands just stage left of centre holding what appears to be a rope held in her hands draped in front of her legs, Khan is upstage left as vocalist Juliette Van Peteghem enters. All are placed within the space but casual walks relocate each in his or her performance area. Peteghem begins with a single syllable, not quite a word as a sound as the violin begins to play then the cello joins. Guillem also joins this lilting score of strings and vocalisation. Peteghem begins a rhythmical Kathak stomp as Khan joins. Khan elaborates with improvised rhythm with bells on his ankles making a rippling sound; his arms and hands a flurry of undulations as the feet pat the earth in varied rhythms. Peteghem stands behind Guillem, removing Guillem’s microphone. Khan’s gesture in arms and feet become more intricate and quick.

From the beginning musicians move and dancers sing, sharing, crossing genres, crossing cultures laying the foundation for voice, music and movement language transformation. Khan’s monologue is directed to the audience discussing questions of which he believes there are only two solutions; either he should be obedient or set about discovering his own answers. Guillem drops her rope, the rope a metaphor indicating both a connection to and entrapment. Khan’s monologue and Guillem’s gesture a metaphor for inquiry regarding prescriptions sagaciously enforced in their life’s work. Peteghem retrieves the rope as Guillem’s reaches into space; or is it a gesture to indicate escape. Guillem’s solo, choreographed by Lin Hwai Min, is a collage, brush strokes of lines and circles that extend and entangle, attitude turns into knee turns and knee work that hints at sharing between contemporary and classical training. Guillem’s postures on one leg expose this sharing having a rooted ness more associated with more earth bound dance practices. There are curls into the floor and standing postures that are as long as Guillem’s toes and fingers can reach; her long glances seeming more introspective not projective and not as sprawling as the reach of her legs and arms. This solo seems a movement explanation, a possible answer to the questions posed in Khan’s monologue; an opportunity to alter embodied perfection to render difference; to find alternative ways of knowing moment.

The lighting by Mikki Kunttu assists a transition for Khan to relate his dilemma as a young Kathak dancer aspiring to be Krishna. Krishna is most often pictured in blue with long curly hair. Khan desires to become this vision of perfection; to embody this appearance as well as movement knowledge. The stage awash in white light, Khan begins his Kathak solo choreographed by Gauri Sharma Tripathi. Beginning with a movement metaphor of broken arm gestures that seem to symbolise the tribulations of imperfection, Khan confronts his Sacred Monsters of self analysis. A perfect position is skewed as the arm drops out of place again. Khan retrieves the perfect position only to lose another bit of it. These gestures are done with increasing tension perhaps indicating Khan’s frustration and strife to achieve ideals; those perfect positions as epitomised by Krishna. This solo continues with movement language of Kathak with brief hints of contemporary sensibilities. Arm gestures and etched hands extend from a spiralled back. Quick hand gestures attached to brisk turns always at the behest of the rhythm accompany fast foot work and spins from upstage left to downstage right. One phrase includes a steady stream of rhythmical feet gyrating on the floor with the opening motif. Arm gestures break and drop, reach as from the beginning with fast feet travelling on a diagonal; a polycentric feat as appendages perform opposing rhythmical phrasing. This solo illustrates crisis, a movement portrayal of the questions posed in Khan’s opening monologue. This solo though is not just an opportunity to express what is confronted in the process to embody perfection. It is an attempt to dissolve personal obligatory boundaries, face Sacred Monsters and refine alternative possibilities.
An interlude ensues as Guillem brushes her hair and braids it as Khan takes off his ankle bells; the singer and strings provide a light ambiance of sound. Khan speaks again of his dilemma of trying to be Krishna and relates that he will “find Krishna within me”; Guillem states he is a “beautiful bald Krishna”. A duet starts with simple holding hands enabling rippling sequences with both looking eyes to eyes. Face to face they entangled, crisscross, wipe each other around but always circles around and about each other; small steps make transitions to alternative space crossing the stage with full body rolls. This develops into feigned touches of Khan’s head and hands to Guillem’s chest and hips that result in percussive, violent reactions in Guillem’s body as Khan thrust forward. It would appear that Guillem has become the antagonist in the dichotomy Khan is seeking to resolve.

Laying downstage centre, Guillem’s monologue is another metaphorical look at Sacred Monsters. Performing a movement fragmentation motif similar to Khan’s, Guillem’s gestures are with both arms and legs but more contorted. Guillem relates her experience of learning Italian from Charlie Brown children’s book. Her favourite character is Sally, Charlie Brown’s precocious little sister who from Guillem’s perspective hurdles over and around the futility of life with whimsy. Guillem seems to acknowledge with this metaphor she knows what must be given up for her art and decided it’s not so bad. Guillem has faced her Sacred Monsters on stage and within and found acquiescence.

Another more mechanical duet is performed which seems a contest of will and physicality between Guillem and Khan. This duet finishes with Khan on his knees. The following solo for Khan begins with arm gestures accompanying full body lifts from the knees onto the toes followed by collapses onto knees. Khan asks verbally intermittently “Is this right?” Illustrating crisis, Khan’s Sacred Monsters prevent him from finding the acquiescence Gulliem has achieved and celebrates. This solo is a further development of Khan’s dilemma in his quest to embody Krishna. If the quest is to embody Krishna is one disrespectful when explorations deconstruct, redefine or dissolve the perfection one is seeking to become. Khan’s inquiry seems ontological and his several solos, an empirical investigation into being; alternate means to experience solutions.

Khan centre with arms exquisitely placed, Guillem approaches and assists him to stand. As they entwine and encircle they build a physical sculpture. There is sameness and difference seen simultaneously in this image with Guillem the one who empathises and Khan the one who seeks answers. She clamped around his waist, his feet the roots of their tree of investigation; this metaphor an affirmation that both will always be that from which they have come. There is a knowing between them that has been nurtured in the making of Sacred Monsters; the interaction of their separate worlds a rare insightful phenomenon for performers and witnesses. The final duet is a further development of this exchange; Guillem performing Kathak type moves and Khan performing more contemporary lyrical ness. They share nuances, inferences from different worlds using different strategies to endeavour and explain reflections on Sacred Monsters for themselves and those who would listen. They have exchanged sentience like they have exchanged movement and diction; ways to pronounce with body and words what it is to be a Sacred Monster and revealed that each in her or his own way will seek alternative and separate truths to answer questions posed in this conversation.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:58 pm 
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Cassandra wrote:
Guillem pulling her limbs into position every time she moved reminded me of something and I just couldn't think what, but they showed "Men in Black" on the telly a couple of days later and I realized where I'd seen those moves before - the alien bug that couldn't fit into his human skin! Wonder if the similarities were deliberate?

I didn't see this dance piece, but I liked that part of "Men in Black". What a great image!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:02 pm 
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An LA Times preview of Sacred Monsters, which comes to UCLA next week! Also in the article are some rather pointed comments on the US visa process.

Quote:
Guillem climbs a world stage
Allen Robertson, LA Times

Here, Guillem shares the stage with the London-born Bangladeshi Khan plus a small group of singers and musicians. Mixing her innate classical elegance with Khan's razor-sharp skills in the percussive Indian dance style known as kathak, they head off on a journey in search of a new hybrid vision of dance theater.

"I am excited about doing new things," says Guillem. "I've proved, I think, that each time I go onstage I try my best to explore, to improve. The classical world is not enough. I need something else to enrich me."
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:27 am 
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Whilst I am no fan of the current US government and its via policies, I might point out that European countries are increasingly guilty of the same extended and expensive procedures. I've spent my share of hours in the cold waiting to renew UK student visas and new regulations for short term artistic visas may become a disaster for the Edinburgh Festivals starting in 2008. Perhaps Europeans should be ensuring that their governments set an example on visas before complaining about the US...

Kate


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 10:59 am 
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I saw Sacred Monsters last night at UCLA, and have a ticket for tonight, but am not sure if I will return. I certainly enjoyed it, and it seemed like two people having some good fun trying new things out in front of an audience. It was as if they had done everything they wanted to do in their careers, and now they could just relax and try to have some fun. They dance very well together, and it was always interesting to see them dancing together contrasting their very different styles of movement.

I have to pause here to comment on Guillem, because I had never seen her dance in person before. Her feet and extensions are just astounding, but even better is how she uses them. In her solo with her leg up in her trademark almost 6-o'clock position, it was like she grew another arm. It was some of the most expressive leg and footwork I'd ever seen.

I was also very impressed with the speaking sections as both displayed very good comic timing. Who knew?

--Andre


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 12:28 pm 
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They will be in Barcelona in June and for sure I won't miss them!

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To know more about ballet and dance in Spain you can visit "http://balletymas.com/" web page with some articles also in English


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 9:11 pm 
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Reviews of the show in Southern California:

Quote:
'Sacred Monsters' explores dances of East and West
Lewis Segal, LA Times

"Sacred Monsters" is a public dialogue in speech and motion between two artists supremely skilled in different forms of classical dance — artists who share as well a long commitment to contemporary expression. It brings together dancer-choreographer Akram Khan, a master of kathak, one of India's more brilliant classical idioms, and Sylvie Guillem, a ballet star famed for her technique and daring.
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'Sacred Monsters' experiment a triumph
Laura Bleiberg, Orange County Register

The star vehicle "Sacred Monsters," seen Wednesday at Royce Hall, was an enjoyable convergence of two high-powered dancers of prodigious talent, from opposite ends of the classical spectrum.
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 9:14 pm 
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A feature on the show:

Quote:
East meets West
Laura Bleiberg, Orange County Register

It would be easy to focus exclusively on the shared distinctions of Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem.

The two artists are both "classical dance prodigies and rebels," as one London dance critic noted. And let's not forget their outsized passions for their respective art forms.
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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 10:46 am 
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This review by Toba Singer was posted in another forum:

”Sacred Monsters,” Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, California, May 5, 2007

Sylvie Guillem puts the body back into “bodisattva” in her crossover collaboration with the esteemed Kathak practitioner, Akram Khan. “Sacred Monsters” is the medium for the meeting of two classical traditions: Ballet and Indian Kathak, where a fluent ionic exchange leaves neither dance form nor dancer quite the same.

A slow rise of the curtain coincides with an equally slow dimming of house lights to the accompaniment of a mournful cello solo. As the stage brightens, we find a cellist, a violinist, a drummer and a singer onstage. The evening’s dance partners stand entwined stage left and behind them is a chasm nearly the width of the Zellerbach stage, flanked on each side with a rough-textured white swath of lathing. Is it a statement about polar icecaps melting, or does it represent the gulf between two equal traditions, or is it the shape of the sexual organ through which most of us enter the world? As the old inkblot joke goes, “They’re your pictures, doc,” and so perhaps it’s just a design that works to present the work, and it does that rather spectacularly.

The movement begins with the couple’s show of shiva-like arms, snaking outward as they find their planar symmetries. Khan then stands alone as he beats out a rhythm with one foot wrapped in bells that accompanies his upper body movements where his arms flow and then slow to a stop.

As an apologia for her life as a sacred monster of ballet (sacred monster being a French synonym for “diva”), Khan explains that there were two choices posed by Guillem's Paris Opera ballet training: “Do quietly and obediently what you’re told or search for your own answers.” Guillem’s search prompted her to take herself out of the Paris Opera demi-monde with its overly controlling artistic director, Rudolf Nureyev, and become the first to write her own ticket at the Royal Ballet, where she gets to dance no more than 25 times per season, approves all partners, costumes, ballets and photos that involve her, so that she may tour the world with her own work and simultaneously hold an associate position at Sadler’s Wells. It takes a bona fide contortionist to arrange one’s life to be able to multitask so effectively! Can/should everyone search for his or her own answers? Of course, but with the generous understanding that if you have a preternaturally balletic body, you may find answers that are more satisfying than those who don’t.

Guillem breaks out into a t’ai chi-like series of lunges that then moves into work with the arms where she is scooping air in all directions. She does weight transfers that draw in the back and then suddenly an arabesque seems to shoot out of nowhere and end up in another galaxy. In the background, Khan whispers as the violin comes up and Guillem’s flexed foot punctuates a virtuosic phrase of slow undulations. Now she’s on the floor rolling and she stops on an upswing to let her arms scoop air from the center. Her patient strength is lightened by wonder expressed through outré développés. Khan lowers his arms as the cello rises. He speaks about how going bald caused him to turn to Kathak because he knew he would be thrown out of the world of classical ballet. The memory sends him into dervish-like spinning turns that cap the ebbs and flows of music and dance and the high level of integration between chants, steps and notes. One of the most enthralling enchaînements, if that term is appropriate here, occurs when both dancers take hold of each other’s hands like children playing one of those terrifying centrifugal games where they turn with quick steps, pulling back on their heels, eyes and mouths widening into silent then audible screams, not letting go of each other no matter what! In grade school, my friends Debbie Wiener and Annette Marquéz got into a lot of trouble for having played that game, and I believe to this day that the scariest part for the teacher who chastized them was the intensity of their bond and not the danger that they might fall. As I watched Guillem and Khan, I learned that it still terrifies me!

Abandoning that game, Guillem sprawls out on the stage, faces the audience and tells about the time she decided to learn Italian while in Milan by using an Italian translation of the children’s cartoon book, Charlie Brown. As she tells the simple but endearing story, she repositions her limbs as if she were rearranging her living room or leafing through the pages of that children’s book, grabbing a part of a limb and casually turning it in the opposite direction or placing it where no other human’s could possibly go.

Their bodies tell their stories onstage with an intimacy you suspect they would never give quarter to in person, and in the next one, Khan who is shorter than the lanky Guillem, backed by her against an imaginary wall, menaces hers with his, as a head threatens a head, or an entire shoulder chases a chest or, open jawed, he stops just short of biting her breast. As he pursues, she races backward and away from him. This is followed by a charming dialogue in Italian about where and where not to place the arms in high first position according to (one presumes) Cecchetti. Then they’re done with that and launch flickering flip book movements where she’s driving. It ends with the kind of rebound you get from a broken spring, rendering her the tragic heroine in a combination that has lasted only a few seconds. Then we find Khan returning to his lament about classical ballet as he labors on the floor bent over doing bounces, asking as one inevitably does over and over in class, “Is this right? Which hand? Are we allowed to do this?”—that pernicious self talk that never seems to let up. Next, Guillem leaps onto Khan, her legs gripping his waist. She combrés ba-a-ack and reeeeeaches forward and then they mirror each other’s arms reprising some of the work that opened the show, but from a new perspective--like sculptural stone flowers growing from a single plant. Then they stand parallel and do a series of Humphrey-Weidman fall-and-recover exercises that become bouncing jumps and then go stylized into rope-skipping mime, complete with arms. Guillem opens a discussion on the French word émerveillé, for which she claims there is no English equivalent. She says she wants to be émerveillé all the time and I am thinking she wants to be “marvelized” in English or perhaps, as we now are, filled with wonder by all the possibilities.


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