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Anikai Dance Makes NYC Debut with He Who Burns (July 10-12, Manhattan, NY)

by Sarah Hart
July 10, 2009
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 405-9000
Boston's Acclaimed Anikai Dance Makes NYC Debut with
HE WHO BURNS
July 10-12, 2009 at The Ailey Citigroup Theater

"gorgeous" – The Boston Herald
"bravissima" - La Tribuna, Italy
"magic" – Hindustan, India

After stops at The Kennedy Center (July 3) and Boston University (June 19-20), Boston's internationally acclaimed ANIKAI DANCE COMPANY will make its long-awaited New York City debut with HE WHO BURNS beginning July 10th at The Ailey Citigroup Theater. Choreographed by Wendy Jehlen, this evening-length work explores the figure of Iblis, also known Satan, in some Sufi traditions. The performance is rooted in the ancient tradition of syncretism - combining dance and theatre, elements of Islam and Hinduism, and growing out of performance styles as divergent as Brazilian Capoeira, Japanese Butoh, Sanskrit theater, contact improvisation, West African dance and American sign language poetry.

HE WHO BURNS is a dance-theater piece exploring the nature of humanity's relationship with the divine, the eternal quest for unity, and the illusion of duality in the human experience. It takes our notion of good and evil, the divine and the satanic, and turns it on its head. Staged as a trio, He Who Burns takes us on a journey from the time before time, through the suffering of Iblis in his separation from his Beloved, and his quest for the same, through to his ecstatic annihilation. The performance at once parallels the Sufi quest, as outlined in the great Sufi text "Conference of the Birds" and the structure of the Bharata Natyam performance. The text, from the Persian, Arabic and Urdu of Al-Hallaj, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohammed Iqbal, Al Ghazzali, Hafiz and Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi, is performed in Urdu, English and Korean.

HE WHO BURNS will be performed by Kim Eunjung, Pradhuman Nayak, and Wendy Jehlen with music by Nandlal Nayak.

ANIKAI DANCE COMPANY was founded in Boston in 1996 by choreographer Wendy Jehlen. Jehlen's unique approach to movement incorporates elements of a wide range of dance styles including Bharata Natyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi, which she has studied for over twenty years, since the age of seven in India and the US; Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Art), West African dance; and American and European Modern and Contemporary dance styles. Jehlen's work has been performed throughout the United States, Europe, India and in Japan, including Birth (2005), a juxtaposition of the story of the creation of dance and rhythm from South India and the image from the well-known lecture on Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect; Dragon (2005), based on a Japanese folk tale about a girl who becomes a water dragon; Breathing Space (2003), a collaboration with Japanese choreographer Hikari Baba; Crane (2002), based on images from Japanese Buddhist poetry; Haaaa (2002), a dance inspired by the experience of childbirth; Midnight (2000), based on a poem by Sufi saint Jelaluddin Rumi; Job 10 (1999), based on The Book of Job; and Becoming Fire (1998), an evening length work exploring texts from the Sufi traditions of Iran and South Asia. Jehlen has received funding and recognition from Massachusetts Cultural Council (2001, 2003), American Institute of Indian Studies (2001), the Ford Foundation/Arts International (1996), the Puffin Foundation (2001), the Tokyo American Center (2002), the National Endowment for the Arts (2005), the Fulbright program/United States Educational Foundation in India (2005-2006), the National School of Drama (2006) and the Alliance Francaise de Madras (2006), among others.

HE WHO BURNS runs July 10 -12, Friday - Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 5pm. The Ailey Citigroup Theater is located at 405 West 55th Street (at the corner of 9th Avenue — accessible from the A,C, D & #1 trains at 59th Street - Columbus Circle). Tickets are $20 / $15 for students & seniors, available at 212-868-4444 or www.SmartTix.com.
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