Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Akram Khan's Kaash - contemporary meets Indian classical

Akram Khan Company, Kaash, The Lowry, 6 Oct 2015

Watching the Akram Khan Company's Kaash is one of the most exhilarating theatrical experiences I know. Its dancers can contort their bodies into almost unimaginable shapes and they can move around the stage like bats out of hell.  For 50 minutes I was totally absorbed with the sounds and movement. Alternating periods of sound and silence. Corresponding stillness and explosions of energy on stage.

The performance starts with a Sung Hoon Kim alone on stage. He stands with his back to the audience in silence with the house lights on. Then darkness as the other dancers enter. The men are stripped to the waste in what appear to be black chiffon trousers. The women are also in black with tunics over leggings their costumes reminding me of shakwar kameez. They performed before a backdrop consisting of a black rectangle framed in red. The score consisted of percussion, fragments of speech including phrases in English, something that resembled the roar of an aircraft engine which was almost deafening followed by blessed silence. It was during the silences that the most delicate movements occurred. There were delicate hand movements which I surmised to be derived from or at least inspired by Kathak dance.  The performance ended as suddenly as it began with the lights suddenly cut and the stage in silence. Then wild applause and ululations.

According to the Lowry's website Kaash means "if only" in Hindi and that was reflected with such muffled phrases as "if only I had bought two instead of one" whispered on stage. Apparently
“Hindu Gods, black holes, Indian time cycles, tablas, creation and destruction” were the starting points for this work ........ Khan’s quest to build bridges between the worlds of contemporary dance and the Indian classical dance form Kathak."
Almost certainly I lost many of those allusions viewing the work from an Anglo-Saxon perspective.

The dancers were Kristina AlleyneSade Alleyne, Sung Hoon Kim, Nicola Monaco and Sarah Cerneaux. The score was by Nitin Sawhney, the set by Anish Kapoor and the costumes by Kimie Nakano.  The show is at The Lowry for one more day. If you can get to Salford this evening then perhaps you should.

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