PARIS, 5 April
2004What many try to
do, he just does. Akram Khan, the young
Anglo-Indian choreographer, seems to explode spontaneously on stage, releasing
a communicative life-giving energy.
His first full-length work,
Kaash, created in 2002, and modified since, begins the moment you step
into the auditorium and see the spectacular backcloth by the celebrated painter
Anish Kapoor. Kapoor has created a void, an impenetrable
black rectangle with blurred edges that covers most of the back of the stage.
As the work begins, a single dancer comes on stage and, back to the audience,
stares motionless into the darkness before a woman joins him, leaning forward
to whisper in his ear.
We soon understand that we are watching the
end of the work as it begins to move backwards ingeniously. The end is the
beginning and the beginning is the end.
The dancers form a single, dynamic column, moving
simultaneously but differently, their arms slashing and pulverising the air,
faster than light. At first, you watch Khan himself, mesmerised by the visual
beauty, grace, and emotion engendered by his slightest gesture, but then your
eyes are drawn to the other four dancers, clearly inspired by their leader to
Akram Khan Company: Kaash
courtesy of Akram Khan
A central, slow, almost meditative section
followed, where a girl threw herself on the ground, undulating as a serpent,
writhing, animal-like, yet always neat and precise. At this point the music of
Nithin Sawney, which had kept up a constant dialogue with the choreography,
gave place to the harshness of the dancer's breathing, the decor behind her
seeming almost alive, the edges trembling and oscillating.
Shiva's creation/destruction aspect was
an inherent part of the work, Khan agreed after the performance; it was full of
the symbolism of the Indian Gods, with the grace of the deer confronting the
power of the tiger. There was, he said, much improvisation, often based on the
Kathak dance forms he had presented earlier in his traditional
Akam Khan is stunning in both. Moreover, the young troupe he
has formed, with two dancers from South Africa, one from Spain, and the fourth
from Malaysia, their average age not more than 22 or 23, is one of the most
exciting contemporary dance groups around at the moment..
Akram Khan was awarded the Critic's
Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography for 2003 in London on
13 January 2004
here for an interview with Akram Khan
Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She contributes to
The Observer and Dancing Times. Ms. Boccadoro is also the dance editor of