In all my pre-Melbourne Festival excitement about Akram Khan's company FINALLY performing in Melbourne, I began looking back through my notes from 2005, when I first saw Khan and his dancers perform in Perth. Their performance of MA in the Perth Festival of that year was brilliant, so I thought it might be worthwhile to drag out the brief description I wrote for The Age at the time...
For me, the highlight of the festival was Akram Khan’s MA. With exquisite detail and unique movement that could be compared to the choreography of Lin Hwai-min (Cloud Gate Dance Theatre), Khan is an exceptional new talent.
MA, which means both earth and mother, is without a linear narrative, but focuses on our relationship with the environment. There is a lot of anger within the work, a white hot energy that simmers beneath the surface. Both dancers and live musicians work with intense percussion which is contrasted against quiet moments of suspended beauty.
Khan blurs classical Indian Kathak dance with contemporary dance, creating a new movement vocabulary that is exhilarating for its elaborate physicality and speed. He masterfully manipulates stillness and explosive energy, reflection and action, sending his dancers scooting through the space with arms like steel-edged ribbons.
Khan is also an astounding performer. While the dancers of his company are excellent, none can quite match his charisma, grace and physical embodiment of the work.
For more examples of Khan's recent work, YouTube is your friend. The duets he has created with Sylvie Guillem and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui are both worth watching.
The Akram Khan Company will be premiering their latest work, Vertical Road, at the Melbourne Festival in October this year. I reckon it's going to be great!