Currently on the last leg of their North American tour, Vertical Road has reached critical acclaim around the world. The Guardian describes it as: “The dance is beautiful and harrowing, and draws us into a strange, potent world of memory and self discovery.”
Recent accolades for the piece include winning the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award 2011 for Best Modern Choreography.
Vertical Road is Khan’s latest contemporary ensemble work realised by an eclectic cast drawn from across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. With a specially commissioned score by long-term collaborator, composer Nitin Sawhney, Vertical Road draws inspiration from the Sufi tradition and the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi.
Exploring man’s earthly nature, his rituals and the consequences of human actions, Vertical Road becomes a meditation on the journey from gravity to grace. The piece explores these ideas in a ground-breaking work of contemporary dance, choreographed by Khan himself and performed by eight hand-picked dancers from around the world led by the uber talented dancer/choreographer Salah El Brogy, who plays the role of the traveller. El Brogy has been mesmerising audiences across the globe with his moves and is proving to show that dance portrays a deeper meaning that can really touch the soul. El Brogy is an artist with a message who continues to make a mark in his field.
Vertical Road sees Khan returning to pure movement in his choreography, eliminating the text and dialogue that have featured in recent works such as DESH and zero degrees. Rooted in his classical kathak training, but informed by his experience and virtuosity in contemporary dance, Vertical Road has strong Middle Eastern influences, and continues Khan’s interest in exploring the interfaces between different cultures and creative disciplines.
Mesmerising, stunning, breathtaking and wonderful were just some of the words the audience uttered after watching the world premiere of Akram Khan’s much anticipated ensemble work, Vertical Road, which took place at Leicester’s Curve Theatre. A lot commented about the intense and high energy performance from the eight dancers on stage as well as the brilliant music composed by Khan’s long-term collaborator Nitin Sawhney.
In Vertical Road, Khan draws inspiration from universal myths of angels that symbolise ‘ascension’ – the road between the earthly and the spiritual, the vertical road… this piece as he says on the video below, is very mythical.
(Thank you to IDFB for the video)
It was also good to see friends Salah El Brogy and Ahmed Khemis perform on stage. I met them during IDFB 2010 and it was great to see elements of their solo work come alive on stage once again. Both are very strong performers and wish them all the best in their two-year Vertical Road tour. Based on last night’s reception, this production is going to be well-received.
For tour dates, click here.
Director/choreographer: Akram Khan
Composer: Nitin Sawhney
Producer: Curve with ADACH, Sadlers Wells, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, and Mercat de les Flors, Barcelona
Eulalia Ayguade Farro, Konstandina Efthymiadou, Salah El Brogy, Ahmed Khemis, Young Jin Kim, Yen-Ching Lin, Andrej Petrovic, Paul Zivkovich
Running time: 1hr 10mins
Continuing to keep the online presence alive for International Dance Festival Birmingham means that I get to track Festival alumni. I heard from Beirut-based Maqamat Dance‘s very busy season. Last week, I also managed to catch up with Akram Khan, Ahmed Khemis and Salah El Brogy. They are all working together in Khan’s latest ensemble work, Vertical Road, which premieres in Leicester’s Curve Theatre on 16 September.
To see the IDFB blog post on Vertical Road, click here.
Below are their interviews. Khan talks about the various concepts of Vertical Road as well as the significance of lighting and costume in the production. El Brogy, who plays the lead role of the traveller, talks of his journey with the company so far (one version in English and another in Arabic) and Khemis also shares his Vertical Road experience so far in English and French. Both dancers, from Egypt and Tunisia/Algeria respectively, have been handpicked by Khan and are part of an eight-strong cast of world-class performers from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Four weeks. More than 100 performances. World-class artists. That was International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010. I’ve had such an amazing time working as a Marketing and New Media Officer for the Festival. Not only did I get to work with such an amazing team from DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome, I have met some of the nicest and talented people in the world of dance such as the beautiful Rosie Kay, renowned British choreographer Akram Khan and Arthur Pita to name a few. The good news is that I am continuing with the online presence for IDFB and am very much looking forward to working more on this project.
I felt quite privileged to see such an extensive range of dance styles from renowned artists from all over the world. It was interesting to hear from the Arab artists about their shows and about how their dance is very much connected to their spiritual side. Here are a couple of videos of two talented artists from Tunisia/Algeria and Egypt from the IDFB channel on YouTube:
Ahmed Khemis, Tunisia/Algeria
Salah El Brogy, Egypt
Utopia and (in)visible / visible dancin’ were two great outdoor performances that were part of the Festival. These both proved how dance is increasingly becoming popular as the public have received them very well.
visible dancin’ – May 9, 2010, High Street, Birmingham
IDFB has reached canal networks, has been out and about in the region and has touched many around the world (thanks to being online). I very much look forward to the next one in 2012. Watch out for other news via its Facebook group. Really pleased to have seen it grow to more than 1,000. Check out its Flickr page too. The video packages, which I helped produced, will also be out soon. In the mean time, I leave you with a bit of Put Your Foot Down!
Put Your Foot Down! Finale – May 15, 2010, Bullring, Birmingham