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Akram KhanThe next new thing?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 05:47 AM

Interesting piece in the times about a choreographer who's winning raves from .... other choreographers!

Shiva Meets Martha Graham, at a Very High Speed

With rave notices from the likes of William Forsythe, Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, a string of prestigious awards and an impressive residency in London, Akram Khan is one of the most talked about young dancemakers on the international scene. His choreography fuses classic Indian and Western modern dance, a style he calls contemporary kathak, an homage to the 16th-century North Indian dance in which he trained.

At a performance of his dynamic, 15-minute piece "Related Rocks" last February here at the Cambridge University theater, he and his dancers drew a standing ovation. To a score by Magnus Lindburg played by the London Sinfonietta, they flew across the stage, their arms splicing the air. They formed mathematically precise patterns in relation to the music, and then spun in pirouettes, finishing quietly in sensual poses reminiscent of Indian statues.



#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:07 AM

Interesting buzz - and I did recall the reviews when he was here with the UK/NY festival, the impression I got was that they were more resistant.

I'm not sure there's a connection, but the quotes bring to mind one of Croce's first establishing articles on Mark Morris twenty years ago. One of the pieces she dwelt upon at length was done to a raga, I believe.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 07:28 AM

It's a nice piece -- makes me want to see him. One of the problems living in the provinces is that we never get The Next New Thing until s/he's either established or over and done. All the reviews I've read of Khan, though, make me think he's the real thing.

#4 carbro

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Posted 11 August 2003 - 11:05 AM

The quotes certainly tickle the curiosity response. I'm hoping to see something of his.

#5 Saveta

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 07:41 PM

Akram Khan is coming to Toronto this fall (in November) as part of Harbourfront Centre's
World Moves series.
Here is link to more information (there is a very interesting line up for next season!)

http://www.harbourfr...farts/dance.php

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 10:15 AM

Khan is in New York NOW! I'm posting this to bump up the thread; if anyone goes, please report. He sounds interesting.

Here's a review that Paul Parish did for the DanceView West edition of DanceView Times a few weeks ago, when the company was in San Francisco.

Eve of Destruction

Akram Khan's brilliant Kaash began before I was aware of it. The house lights were still up; I was turned around talking to the person behind me when I realized I'd lost her attention—a look of alarm had come into her eyes, and I turned to see there was a knife-blade slender youth onstage, with his back to us, dressed in black, gazing motionless into the huge black rectangle suspended, floating on the horizon in silence like a monstrous new planet or a black sun up in the sky. The scene looked like a Rothko—and the image on the back wall did not change throughout the disturbing, rattling contemporary dance that took place in front of it for the next ninety minutes or so. The black hopeless object held focus amidst peripheral washes of color, sometimes pearly white, sometimes blood-red. The entire dance seemed to be the image of an unquiet train of thought that began with "If..." (Khaash means "if," or alternatively "what if," in Hindi, according to a program note) and went to a lot of dark places...... One of those dark meditations that leads you in an apparent circle but in fact is spiraling downwards. When we reached a bleak place after about an hour, and were overtaken by an overwhelming roar that shook me to the bones, it turned out that the dance had returned to the opening configuration, and the opening section began all over again.



#7 dancemomCA

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Posted 16 October 2003 - 11:56 AM

Very timely - I am going to see the performance next week in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. HMMM... After reading Paul's review, I don't know who to take with me. My daughter (tap and hip hop) will probably find the seven rhythm jarring. Dancing son is training out of town, but I know that with his dance sensibilities he would definitely enjoy this show.

#8 Hjete

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Posted 10 January 2004 - 09:45 PM

I got to see Khan's "Kaash" in Columbus in October, but I just happened upon this topic today! I haven't seen all that much contemporary dance (I'm a ballet student mainly), but I took a level one contemporary class last semester in college and was required to go see the concert and write about it. In my analysis, I mainly focused on the piece's numerous contrasts, on the ways the dancers related to one another, and on specific sections that had unique effects on me. Because I have so little background in contemp (and none at all in Kathak), it was interesting for me to read Paul Parish's review of "Kaash" just now and see what I missed...and also what I did see that he saw, or what I interpreted differently. If anyone is interested in reading my VERY amateur review/comments (it was for a journal entry), I'd be glad to post it. Overall, I was impressed by Khan's work, but I definitely haven't seen enough contemp to judge his genius! :innocent:

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 10 January 2004 - 09:53 PM

Yes, please post your review! Khan is controversial -- some people see great depth, yet I've read others who've written he's exhausted his movement ideas in five minutes.

There's another review on the DanceView Times site, by Susan Reiter, also generally positive:

An Unsettling Journey

But please post what you thought (and please never be reluctant to do so, whether you agree or disagree with what someone else has written).

#10 Hjete

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Posted 11 January 2004 - 07:27 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, Alexandra! Here's my "review."

Let me first say that though I have seen some contemporary dance concerts, I had never seen anything quite like this one (Khan's "Kaash")! I was amazed by the variety of shapes created and by the speed of many of the movements, especially the arm movements near the beginning of the piece. The speed of these motions created a blurred effect in my eyes similar to what is seen in photographs taken with a slow shutter speed of quickly moving objects. The low light throughout much of the piece allowed the dancers to play with the shadows. When one or two of them stood in the darkness, they seemed to be beyond the reach of the audience, but their presence was palpably felt. The dimness of the light also made me more conscious of light and dark contrasts. My attention was especially drawn to the striped floor patterns (of light) and the lightness of the bare arms and other exposed skin in comparison with the dark clothing the dancers wore. When the light did change, it was very dramatic, as when the stage was bathed in bright purple light.
Another major contrast I noticed was the difference between silence and sound. I actually felt that I could “hear more” when it was silent. Instead of listening to the music and watching the dancers, I relied on the latter to satisfy both my senses of sound and sight. I could “hear more” literally (breathing, sound of body touching floor, etc.) and metaphorically because the dancers were the only thing communicating with the audience. Similarly, the contrast between stillness and motion struck me profoundly as the dancers showed me the truth in what I’ve been told about there being motion even in stillness. As he stood facing upstage for several minutes before the house lights were dimmed and continued this several minutes into the piece, Inn-Pang Ooi exuded a presence that pulled me into the piece emotionally even though it looked like he was “just standing.” With his still motion, he communicated with me as lucidly as the others who danced around him. In other parts of the piece when physical movement seemed to stop, I could still see motion in things as subtle as the breath.
The ways the dancers related to each other was influential to my personal interpretation of the piece. Though they were onstage together, the dancers often looked as if they were moving in separate spheres, even when they were doing the same movements. Much of the time they seemed isolated, so when they did look at one another, it was very noticeable. Even then, though, I did not sense a deep connection between them. This feeling of isolation actually passed to me, but not solely because of their relations. It was the whispered words in the music that accomplished this; I felt them get under my skin and give me the chills. Words that came to my mind upon hearing these voices were “unsettling” and “unnerving.”
It was interesting for me to watch when the dancers performed gestures in unison because it allowed me to see how the same movements looked on different bodies. Though the dancers were a cohesive ensemble, the very slight variations in their movements gave them the individuality that made the piece more exciting. The repeated snake-like arm gesture (one arm reaching up and then the hand slowly curling over) was one such movement where this variation could be noted. One specific part of the piece that remains quite clear in my mind is the solo section in which one female dancer spent a large amount of time in close contact with the ground, rolling on it and throwing herself down onto her shoulder/upper arm when she managed to rise away from the earth a bit. If I saw it again, I might interpret it differently, but I saw this section as a struggle to get away from something (represented here by the ground) that the dancer was also holding onto to some degree.
Seeing the concert exposed me to new ideas about dance and expanded me as an artist through my recognition of aesthetic issues like those discussed above. More practically, though, it let me see some of the movements we’ve been working on in class (such as shoulder rolls and spirals) in a concert setting so I could recognize their importance to the vocabulary of contemporary dance.


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