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AKRAM KHAN & Company bring new work, 'KAASH', to The Joyce Theater, NY, October 14-19,'03

by Rajika Puri
October 5, 2003
New York, NY

AKRAM KHAN & Company bring new work, 'KAASH', to The Joyce Theater, NY, October 14-19,'03

by Rajika Puri
October 5, 2003

Akram Khan is probably the 'hottest' choreographer to come out of Britain today. His first full-length work, 'Kaash', which means 'if' in Urdu, is currently touring the United States and will arrive at the Joyce Theater for a week's run on October 14. From what critics like Alastair Macaulay in the 'Financial Times' and Anna Kisselgoff of the 'New York Times' say about his work, this is a performance not to be missed.

'Kaash', with sets by sculptor painter, Anish Kapoor, and music by Nitin Sawhney, both superstars in Britain today, "is about gods . . . about creation and destruction . . . about energy", says Khan. "Integral to the work is the energy of Kathak (the north Indian classical dance form). . . . At its base lies a contradiction: within a chaotic environment, finding clarity."

Khan's movements are indeed clear and succinct. His ability to capture the essence of simple moves - the flip of a hand gesture, a swift Kathak turn that ends in stillness - are almost like watching a Chinese calligrapher at work. At the same time he infuses his body with an energy that comes from modern dance - specifically from his explorations of movement with dancer-choreographer Jonathan Burrows in 1999, and as a hand picked member of the 'X-group' choreographic laboratory of 2000 run by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's school, PARTS, in Brussels.

Trained essentially in Kathak, which he performed with his teacher Pratap Pawar in England and in India, Akram began performing while still a teenager - working with stellar artists like the sitar-player, Pandit Ravi Shankar (In 'Jungle Book') and director Peter Brook (he was the child in 'Mahabharata'). He really started making waves, however, in the mid 'nineties - in particular with a film of his twelve minute solo 'Loose in Flight'.

Sent to New York for the UKinNY Festival in 2001, when he performed at the Kitchen for four days, (and where we saw both the film and a staged version of 'Loose in Flight') Khan continued to be given the best of institutional support. A two-year Residency at the Royal Festival Hall has now been followed by his being nominated Associate, the first non-musician to be so honored.

Developed with his dancers - Moya Michael, Eulalia Ayguade, Inn Pang Ooi, and Shannell Winlock - who study Kathak with Khan every day, 'Kaash', which is also a collaboration with set designer Kapoor, and composer Sawhney, has been seen in Hong Kong, in San Francisco, Jacob's Pillow, and of course in London. Its New York premier is overdue and, as I said before, it is not to be missed.


Akram Khan in 'Kaash'
Photo courtesy of Roy Peters and Akram Khan Company



Akram in a typical Kathak pose
Photo courtesy of Akram Khan Company



Akram Khan and Company in 'Kaash'
Photo courtesy of Roy Peters and Akram Khan Company

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