Nowadays, “to want” is stronger than “to give” or “to share”. Akram Khan's work is a perpetual toing and froing between tradition and modernity, contemporary dance and kathak – classical dance from Northern India that consumes the whole body, including the hands, in a game of highly codified signs and postures. Although this Anglo-Bengali constantly reconnects with his roots, he produces intense shows that deal with current-day preconceptions. Gnosis takes its inspiration from his two previous works “Polaroid feet” and “Tarana”, then moves on to highlight the long, epic Hindu poem, the Mahabharata, and more particularly the story of Gandhari, the wife of a blind king who decided to make herself blind to share the “shadows” of his existence with him. Akram Khan makes this myth a reason for supporting and exploring what he names “inner knowledge”, a way for him to emphasize the opposing forces which flow through each of his characters, linking the human to the divinity. “I was fascinated by this idea of a woman who would choose to make herself blind. And, although she could go back on her decision at any time, her honour, her pride and her promise were so strong, that she preferred blindness to the joy of being able to see her children grow up”.
The choreographer-performer, accompanied by five musicians, and with the collaboration of the virtuoso dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi, invites us to partake in a fascinating solo. A real initiatory journey during which the performer is obliged to watch out for his most inner self or be blinded by the light. “It's just landscapes, images, situations, from which ideas can burst forth and spread, then be transformed by a rather more personal interpretation of the story. A story made of movements”.
By blending a certain form of spirituality with his dance, Akram Khan continues to establish himself as a link between Bengali tradition and our contemporary world.
Source: Maison de la Danse performance program
Akram Khan is a UK-born dancer of Bangladeshi descent. After training with Sri Pratap Pawar in kathak (the traditional dance of northern India), he was handed
his first role aged 13 in « Mahâbhârata », a piece by Peter Brook that made a big impression. From the 1990s onwards, he mixed contemporary dance with this traditional art in « Polaroid Feet » (2001), « Ronin » (2003) and « Third Catalogu »e (2005). During the same period he studied at P.A.R.T.S., the Brussels school run by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
Akram Khan quickly became a prominent figure on the global choreography scene, notably when he wrote the duet « zero degrees » (2005) with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. He also danced with Sylvie Guillem in « Sacred Monsters » and Juliette Binoche in the duet « IN-I »; and wrote « Bahok » (2008) for the National Ballet of China.
Taking a break from the stage, and erasing frontiers between dance genres, Akram Khan created most of the choreography for Kylie Minogue’s 2006 tour. In 2009 he conceived the kathak solo « Gnosis » for Svapnagata, a festival of Indian dance and music of which he is artistic director.
In 2012 he created the choreography section of the London Olympics’ opening ceremony.
A great performer, he directed himself in the autobiographical solo « Desh » (2011), meaning “earth”, in which he goes back to his roots. « Desh » met with immediate
success around the world. Building on that, he created a version for children aged 7+ and their families, « Chotto Desh », with the help of the theatre director Sue Buckmaster.
« Torokaka » (2014), created with Israel Galván, was the meeting of two dancers at the acme of their art, a joust between Indian and Spanish cultures. In 2016 Khan staged « Until the Lions », inspired by a passage in Karthika Naïr’s book which revisits key episodes of sacred Indian epic Mahâbhârata.
Source : 17th Biennale de la danse 2016 press kit
Author, filmmaker and video artist Charles Picq entered working life in the 70s through theatre and photography. A- fter resuming his studies (Maîtrise de Linguistique - Lyon ii, Maîtrise des sciences et Techniques de la Communication - grenoble iii), he then focused on video, first in the field of fine arts at the espace Lyonnais d'art Contemporain (eLaC) and with the group « Frigo », and then in dance.
On creation of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon in 1980, he was asked to undertake a video documentation project that he has continued ever since. During the ‘80s, a decade marked in France by the explosion of contemporary dance and the development of video, he met numerous artists such as andy Degroat, Dominique Bagouet, Carolyn Carlson, régine Chopinot, susanne Linke, Joëlle Bouvier and regis Obadia, Michel Kelemenis. He worked in the creative field with installations and on-stage video, as well as in television with recorded shows, entertainment and documentaries.
His work with Dominique Bagouet (80-90) was a unique encounter. He documents his creativity, assisting with Le Crawl de Lucien and co-directing with his films Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux and 10 anges. in the 90s he became director of video development for the Maison de la Danse and worked, with the support of guy Darmet and his team, in the growing space of theatre video through several initiatives:
- He founded a video library of dance films with free public access. This was a first for France. Continuing the video documentation of theatre performances, he organised their management and storage.
- He promoted the creation of a video-bar and projection room, both dedicated to welcoming school pupils.
- He started «présentations de saisons» in pictures.
- He oversaw the DVD publication of Le tour du monde en 80 danses, a pocket video library produced by the Maison de la Danse for the educational sector.
More recently, he launched the series “scènes d'écran” for television and online. He undertook the video library's digital conversion and created the website numeridanse.tv, an international video library for dance online.
His main documentaries are: enchaînement, Planète Bagouet, Montpellier le saut de l'ange, Carolyn Carlson, a woman of many faces, grand ecart, Mama africa, C'est pas facile, Lyon, le pas de deux d'une ville, Le Défilé, Un rêve de cirque.
He has also produced theatre films: Song, Vu d'ici (Carolyn Carlson), Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux, 10 anges, Necesito and So schnell, (Dominique Bagouet), Im bade wannen, Flut and Wandelung (Susanne Linke), Le Cabaret Latin (Karine Saporta), La danse du temps (Régine Chopinot), Nuit Blanche (Abou Lagraa), Le Témoin (Claude Brumachon), Corps est graphique (Käfig), Seule et WMD (Françoise et Dominique Dupuy), La Veillée des abysses (James Thiérrée), Agwa (Mourad Merzouki), Fuenteovejuna (Antonio Gades), Blue Lady revistied (Carolyn Carlson).
Source : Maison de la Danse
Artistic direction / Conception : Akram Khan
Choreography : Akram Khan, Gauri Sharma Tripathi
Interpretation : Akram Khan, Fang-Yi Sheu (artiste invitée)
Artistic consultancy / Dramaturgy : Ruth Little
Live music : Faheem Mazhar - chant, Sanju Sahai - tabla, Lucy Railton - violoncelle, Bernhard Schimpelsberger - percussion, Kartik Ragunathan - violon
Lights : Fabiana Piccioli
Costumes : Kei Ito, Kimie Nakano
Sound : Marcus Hyde
Other collaborations : Farooq Chaudhry - producteur, JiaXuan Hon - manager de tournée // Remerciements la compagnie de Kodo (Japon), Yoshie Sunahata, M. et Mme Khan et Shanell Winlock avec le soutien de Jerwood Space pour les répétitions Akram Khan dédicace cette pièce à son guru, Sri Pratap Pawar, ainsi qu'à tous les autres conteurs qui continuent à se battre pour transmettre au public d'aujourd'hui une myriade de merveilleuses histoires.
Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Coproduction ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage), Sadler's Wells (Londres) en association avec The Point, Eastleigh
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Production Akram Khan Company, Maison de la Danse
Duration : 41'