Sunday, August 28, 2011

Khan exploring spirituality with vertical moves

In 2009, fans of dance and cinema alike were ecstatic to see French actress Juliette Binoche dancing with esteemed British choreographer Akram Khan. Next month Khan will return to Seoul, but this time without the accompaniment of a superstar to showcase what he calls “pure movements” with vertical inclinations.

Khan is known for infusing India’s traditional Kathak with modern dance to create something that leaps over generational and geographical borders.

The upcoming performance will feature his latest 2010 piece “Vertical Road.” Praised by critics as “fertile dance that touches the soul and lingers in the imagination” (The Australian), it is expected to further push boundaries.

The work will feature the biggest ensemble of dancers his company has ever worked with, including a host of international artists from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The cast includes Korean dancer Kim Young-jin, who has previously worked with Hofesh Shechter, as well as artists from Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand, among others.

In “Vertical Road” the dancers, move as if electrocuted, performing religious rites or making wild, jerking moves.

The piece portrays the basic human desire for vertical ascension, as found in many Christian cultures through dynamic movements. The focus on verticality is a direct reflection of the choreographer’s criticism of today’s “horizontal current,” or modern man’s enslavement to speedy technological development. Verticality thus symbolizes counter movements to such trends.

“More and more, I am pulled reluctantly towards a strong horizontal current, which is a place where time is moving at such high velocity, that even our breath is forced to accelerate just in order for us humans to survive,” Khan said in a statement.

“And I have always believed, that it is in our slow exhalation, where the sense of this deep spiritual energy resides. In a world moving so fast, with the growth of technology and information, I am somehow inclined to move against this current, in search of what it might mean to be connected not just spiritually, but also vertically.”

Khan is of Bangladeshi origin and trained in traditional Indian dance and gained theater experience in Peter Brook’s legendary play “The Mahabharata.” He earned an international reputation through his contemporary spin on traditional Indian dance and formed his own company in 2000. In 2001 he became the choreographer in residence of the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“Vertical Road” will be staged at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Visit for more information.

Source: The Korea Times

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