By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 25 JUNE 2008 -The informal chat with
Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in Lyons almost a year ago did
not prepare me for the overwhelming beauty of Sacred
Monsters, Khan's 2007 creation
with the French ballerina.
It could be said, however, that with the combination of two of
the world's greatest dancers, Guillem, the super-star of
classical ballet and Khan of classic Kathak, such a result was
inevitable. It was. The creation was a fascinating combination
of classicism merging with contemporary, both styles blending
perfectly with Khan's
blazing solo, purely Kathak , this time not of his own
creation, but choreographed by Gauri Sharma Tripathi. There was
far more bravura and less theatre than I had imagined.
The British-born choreographer, who did not have the time to
work on the entire piece, brought in not only Tripathi, but Lin
Hwai Min, of the Cloud Gate
Dance Theatre of Taiwan to create a brilliant solo for
Sylvie Guillem. Guillem sat at the front of the stage
nonchalantly chatting to the audience while all the time
performing quite amazing classical contortions, her arms and
legs finding the most extraordinary positions of which she
herself seemed supremely unaware!
Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan in Sacred
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Separately, they are superb performers, but brought together,
they were astonishing. Completely at ease in the other's
company, and full of charm, whether tender, teasing or
squabbling, when they finally came together in Khan's unique
pas de deux which was what the whole work had been
leading up to, they were sublime. They were as one, Guillem's
long sinewy body melding into and around the powerful sturdy
frame of her partner. It was not only a beautiful visual
experience, but an inspired combination of poetry, humour,
philosophy, and truth.
The production, overseen by Farooq Chaudry, also owed much to
the collaborators chosen and to Khan's musicians themselves.
The set, two enormous white/grey curved walls (in Lyons,
outdoors, the setting was in a cave), was by the Japanese
designer, Shizuka Hariu. All the musicians were on stage and
songs were a mixture of Indian and Western themes, with a
melody surfacing in their midst. An enthralling evening.
Patricia Boccadoro is dance editor at
Related Culturekiosque Dance Archives
An Interview with
Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan
Review: Akram Khan Company
Khan: Beyond Kathak