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Akram Khan Company India Tour 2012; by Farooq Chaudhry January 29, 2013

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In September 2012, Akram Khan Company undertook a six-city tour of India with its dance production Gnosis. The company performed in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. The tour was a partnership between Akram Khan Company, the British Council and the Prakriti Foundation in India. It was an intense schedule whereby the company spent three days in each city – a travel day, technical set up day and performance day. It was Akram Khan’s first tour to India after a gap of nine years. The programme was a balance of classical kathak and modern dance. After the success of Akram’s section in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and his ever-increasing status as an internationally renowned artist, the expectations in India were high.

When the company first toured India in 2003, the audience was of an affluent high status fashionable crowd, as such one gets at major opera houses in Europe. This time around the audience was much more diverse. It was great to see many young people, students, and established and fledgling artists. The audience was much more knowledgeable and enthusiastic than previously, and it was an immense pleasure to share our work with them. They were more in line with the audience demographics we get in London and Europe, and
it was very reassuring to see how India is embracing more contemporary expression and accepting the fact that it is more relevant to its evolving culture. In my opinion, Gnosis performance has attracted more attention because it was a mixed programme of classical and contemporary dance, Akram’s enhanced status and the programme was part of a touring festival arranged by Prakriti foundation. All venues were suitable for showcasing our work though there still remain issues over the availability of good quality technical resources.

Akram and I conducted workshops as part of the programme. Arts managers and artists mainly attended the workshops. That’s no surprise because of the workshop programme focusing on dance producing and dance creating. It was a real mix of experienced professionals and those who have just entered the market. I believe the expectations of those that attended were realistic and it was an enjoyable experience to share processes with those who were hungry to learn. As I said earlier the primary expectations of participants was to understand how they could develop their own creative process, rethink the best models for managing their organisations, being better leaders and thinking how best their work could be positioned and developed in the context of a “market.”

We did not really have time to establish any collaborative opportunities on the tour apart from hiring a local musician who appeared to learn a lot from working with Akram and his company. We did however meet with a very promising young choreographer called Deepak Shivaswamy. He had just won a choreography award and we decided to support him by inviting and paying for him to attend a creative process with Akram in Europe and to mentor him through the creation of a new work he is making. Aside from Deepak we met many
talented artists and we certainly sense the tour has paved the way for future collaborations.

Scottish Dance Theatre and us – an experience we will never forget. November 1, 2012

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By – Mokshaa Akkamma Kuttayya, Class 12, Abacus Montessori School, Chennai

Part of a Scottish Theatre group from Dundee in Scotland worked with us for about an hour and fifteen minutes. The energy in them and their enthusiasm was contagious and all of us participated actively. They made us do some movements to loosen up and we also played some games that involved these movements. They then split us into groups and made us draw patterns on the floor across the room and also use the movements from earlier in the pattern. We also had to be coordinated within one group and use signs from each other as cue to change movements. At the end of the session they performed a small part of their piece for us in which energy they had was quite mind blowing.

Overall it was an amazing experience because none of us had ever attended any workshop or session like it. Everybody enjoyed it, even the boys (which is saying something, although they will deny it). It was interesting to see the way a dance/ theatre group works and their style of dancing was really vibrant and refreshing.

It’s that time of the season again October 10, 2012

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It is hard to forget the buzz, the busy-ness and the excitement of the Akram Khan tour. 17 days on the road and boy – what a ride it was! It has been 3 weeks since we all came back from the buzz and before we know it – it is that time again.

While we are getting to grips with workshops, talk sessions, sorting the dance mats, sorting the rehearsal spaces, pre-rigs and what not, Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) is packing their bags for a smooth landing in Chennai next Thursday. They are a very enthusiastic bunch – a whole range of workshops and showcases await them and they are asking for more. If there ever was a packed schedule for a company, SDT’s schedule would beat that hands down.

They start their tour with workshops with school kids, dancers, under privileged children, special needs children and their teachers; a lecture demonstration with school teachers and talk sessions with technical teams. They bring acclaimed choreographies of James Wilton, Hofesh Shechter and Liv Lorent and we are just waiting in anticipation to feast on the performances.

I know it is going to be double manic – just considering the strength of the team and the places they have to be in. i know it is going to be double hectic – but I also know it is going to be fun like all the rest has been. Something about arts and its environment –the most serious problems are fun to solve, the missed meals don’t affect our bodies and even the latest late nights are fun to be lived! Cannot wait to get more action… see you guys around!

17 days on the road, 6 cities, 4,700 direct audience, 15,000 online reach – and a success story named Akram Khan Company India Tour 2012 October 10, 2012

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Impulse, our season of contemporary dance from UK, kicked off with a 6 city tour by Akram Khan Company. After opening the London Olympics this year, Akram Khan and his company brought down their work – Gnosis – to India which is based on an episode from Mahabharata. The tour encompassed showcases and talks by Akram Khan and Farooq Chaudhry on choreographic inspirations and the business of dance respectively.

 

Akram was accompanied on stage by guest artist Fang-Yi Sheu from Taipei and 5 exceptional musicians on Cello, Percussions, Violin and Vocals. As much as the choreography needs to be appreciated, the live music needs much more appreciation as that sets the mood in place and adds more depth to the performance. The show was an audio visual marvel – with graceful dancing, soulful music and exceptional play of lights.

 

All of us who worked on the project, could not help getting emotional during the opening show in Chennai and after seeing the response. The freight not reaching on time, lights being brought in from Amsterdam, dance floors, media, the magnificence of the technicals – all were worth it!

 

The emotional complexity of Akram’s work talked through and the audience felt the pain, turmoil and rebellion of the characters. It was no wonder then that the audiences all over the country graced the shows with packed houses, standing ovations and cheers, much to the delight of the company.

 

Where Chennai saw a full turnout on a rainy evening, Hyderabad saw a full turnout on a day when dance recitals by famous Indian artists were happening in the city simultaneously. Bangalore and Kolkata were eager to witness the splendour of Gnosis; Mumbai and New Delhi saw who’s who of the dance and theatre world show up to witness the sensation that is Akram Khan.

 

The talks along with the showcases, were very well received by the dance fraternity – as can be seen by the participation. It was good to listen to the producer – choreographer duo as they discussed about the dreams, aspirations, business of a dancer and dance.

 

Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi audiences would never have had such a treat before.  And this is just the beginning ….

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