About a week ago I was lucky enough to find myself in the front row of an Akram Khan dance performance at the Royal Festival Hall. By a strange coincidence I was at another Akram Khan performance, (Kaash – an artistic collaboration between Khan, Nitin Sawhney and Anish Kapoor), almost exactly a year ago. Around this time of the year other people go to pantomimes, I go to dance performances … pretentious maybe but who really wants to see Jim Davidson in tights!
Anyway, it wasn’t for pretentious reasons I went, (I think!). If anything it was for partisan reasons. There is very little chance of me being at this performance of Khan’s second full production – Ma had he not been a fellow Brit Bangla … which I suppose is kinda sad. Well whatever the reasons I was very happy to be there.
Now when I say we had seats at the front I really mean at the front – our eyes were level with the performers feet! Which when you think about it is quite a good perspective to have when at a dance performance. Especially one that made as much use of Khatak-style flat foot stamping and athletic floor action as was made by the highly accomplished Akram Khan Dance Company.
Essentially, the piece was supposed to be inspired by Arundhati Roy‘s writings about evicted Indian farmers and indeed the key pose, repeated throughout the performance, is of dancers assuming an upside-down legs-for-branches pose and Ma, as we are informed in the programme notes, means both land and mother in Hindi. Occasionally, Khan or his dancers stop and talk to us, relating stories about childhood or motherhood in Bangladesh and at one point he broke into a bout of ???