With TITAS’ first-ever all dance season, the offerings have been varied and stimulating thus far, and this weekend’s presentation of the Akram Khan Company only further proves TITAS’ mission of creating unique and innovative programming.
Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working today. British born and of Bangladeshi descent, Khan is celebrated internationally for his stunningly crafted works that demand the audience’s attention. You might have seen a glimpse of his work if you caught the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Khan also won an Olivier Award for his solo production ‘DESH’ in 2012, and the company is currently currently practitioner-in-residence at University of the Arts London. It enjoys artistic associations with Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, MC2: Grenoble in France and other leading venues and festivals around the world.
For his premiere in Dallas, his company will be performing ‘Kaash,’ a collaboration with famed artist Anish Kapoor and composer Nitin Sawhney.
As the company prepares for their debut in Dallas, I spoke with dancer and choreographic assistant Andrej Petrovic.
When did you first find yourself in dance?
The movie ‘Dirty Dancing’ was a starting point. Then when I was 12, I watched my schoolmate performed a Slovakian folk dance and I was mesmerized. I joined my friend during rehearsals and I was lucky to be invited to be part of the group.
I came home exhausted and pleased after my first rehearsal. I got a slap from my mother when I got home as she thought my face was green from smoking or taking drugs.
What is keeping you dancing, working, and creating?
APThe pleasure of moving and being surrounded by talented and creative people is always exciting. I am still curious at how our body and its physicality can produce meaningful movement without words. I am always searching for new things. Each project is different, demands new idea and new creativity. And I enjoy the challenge of finding and creating new form and quality of movements.
Since joining Akram Khan Company in 2007, you have become a rehearsal director and choreographic assistant, how do you balance being a dancer and being in this leadership position?
APWhen I was touring with ‘Vertical Road,’ I was sitting on two chairs: one as a rehearsal director and the other as a performer. I had to learn quickly when I suddenly found myself in a difficult position. I had to be clever and find the right balance as to when and how to approach and give advice to company members with regard to performance, attitude and suggestions. Little did I realize, there’re some disadvantages to it – however I managed to overcome the difficulties and able to lead the team successfully.
What can the audience expect from an Akram Khan Dance Company show?
APA celebration of dance . . . pure movement! Movement, light and music work together in ‘Kaash’ through out the dance piece. The narrative of the show is quite abstract, but it’s all up to the individual interpretation.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about ‘Kaash’?
AP‘Kaash’ (Hindi for ‘if only’) is Akram’s first full-length company piece – Hindu Gods, black holes, Indian time cycles, tablas, creation and destruction were the starting points for this work in 2002. The movements are based strongly on Kathak, a form of Northern Indian classical dance, mixed with a new form of contemporary dance.
Can you describe the process of restaging this work and teaching it to new dancers?
APIt wasn’t easy, Akram was on tour with another production so we had to get a few dancers from the original cast to teach the material to our new dancers. By going through the original recording, the dancers managed to get the movement step by step, however they couldn’t get the essence of the choreography. Towards the end of the ‘creation’ period, Akram came and made things clearer to them, and he made some changes to the movement to suit their body and physicality.
This is the company’s debut performance in Dallas. What is the most exciting part about coming to a new city?
APWe enjoy touring and performing. We hope the audience in Dallas will enjoy our show. Coming to a new city is always exciting, seeing new things and meeting new people. We hope we can return.