my mind’s been dancing a lot
by agnes s.
‘Dance is a form of escapism and it allows you to be in a place, just for a brief moment, where you can dream,
Akram Khan is a british-born choreographer who quickly gained an international reputation for his work. Trained in classical Kathak and contemporary dance techniques his work crosses the boundaries between the two resulting in intercultural, interdisciplinary expression that communicates ideas and continues to evolve. He has collaborated with artists such as Sylvie Guillem, National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, visual artists Anish Kapour and Antony Gormley, composers Steve Reich and Nitin Sawhney and singer Kyile Minogue. He has won numerous awards and in 2005 he received an MBE for services to dance. [via sophiealder]
His works include Rush (2000), Kaash (2002), Bahok (2008), Sacred Monsters (2006) and most recently Vertical Road (2010) and lately Desh (2011)
He’s now recovering from a severe injury [a snapped Achilles tendon] and for a dancer it’s really tough to face these kind of situations but we can see how Khan’s mind work by his reaction to it: “I could have walked again without the operation,” he says. “But I could never have danced at the speed that I do. I would have had no power.” He continues, “I am completely destroying my whole body, all my technique and strength,” he says. “It will come back, it’s like riding a bicycle, but I will have to start from scratch. It’s a bit traumatic.” The only good thing about this [the injury] is that my mind’s been dancing a lot. I have been creating a lot.”
How has your approach to dance changed over the last 10 years?
‘A lot. That’s reflected in the work itself. It’s shifting and evolving into something more unpredictable, to a place where I always get a surprise. Most of the time it’s a good surprise.’
What has been your highlight of the past decade?
‘Meeting Pina [Bausch]. Spending the evening talking about work and life and art. That was a great moment.’
Was she everything you expected?
‘Yes, but even more profound. It was almost like every breath had a purpose. I was fascinated by her acute awareness of every nuance and detail when you were talking to her. You know when sometimes people listen to you but they’re not really listening to you? The exact opposite.’
What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned in your career so far?
‘To trust your first instincts. A lot of the time I don’t. I think I’m still learning that I have to trust my instinct more than my head, my logic or my intellect.’
What keeps you getting up and going into the studio every morning?
‘You know, they say that happiness is a direction, not a place. The studio is direction for me. It’s about having a sense of a purpose somehow – that’s what gets me up. For me, what better way to have a direction than through movement?’
Do you get as much joy from choreography now as you did when you started out?
‘It’s a bit like love. The love for a person in the beginning is not the same as ten years later. It evolves. I would look at the kind of excitement or joy of working at the beginning as not the same as it is now. It evolves into something else. But still I would consider it joy.’
‘Vertical Road’ is about spirituality. Do you think spirituality is necessary in modern society?
‘I don’t think there’s such a thing as necessity for others, just necessity for yourself. If you feel like something’s missing then there’s a necessity.’
And what can a dance piece tell us about that?
‘It depends on who’s receiving it and how willing they are and how clear and strong the work is. This piece isn’t like the more narrative work I’ve done, this has images and movement that are more metaphorical. For each person it’s going to be uniquely different. I don’t think there’s a universal feeling that everyone will get.’