Akram Khan’s dexterity transcends the mere physical ~ Arpita Ghosal

Arpita Ghosal

Arpita Ghosal

Arpita Ghosal is a Toronto-based arts writer. She founded Sesaya in 2004.

Akram Khan (photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez)

Akram Khan (photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez)

Akram Khan is flexible, alright. And not just because he’s a dancer. He’s an artist of international repute, and Toronto audiences anticipated his return to perform Torobaka with Israel Galván at Canadian Stage with considerable excitement. That is – until Mr Galván sustained a knee injury in Paris so severe that he had to return to Spain to recover. Though certain shows in the tour were cancelled, the Toronto performances were not. Exclusively for Toronto audiences, Mr Khan will dance the reimagined choreography, named Toro (“the contest”), as a newly envisioned solo performance. Performing on stage with Mr Khan are four live musicians: countertenor David Azura, contralto Christine Leboutte, palmero Bobote, and Indian percussionist B.C. Manjunath.

“We send Israel our best wishes for a speedy recovery,” says Matthew Jocelyn, Artistic and General Director of Canadian Stage. “We are thrilled to be able to give our audience the opportunity to experience the joyous and exquisite shared language conceived by Akram Khan and Israel Galván in a newly revisioned and wholly original way.”

Torobaka is a melding of Indian Kathak and Spanish flamenco dances, and received its world premiere in Grenoble, France in 2014. Performed by Mr Khan and Mr Galván, the show showcased the artistry of two arresting and avant-garde practitioners who constantly expand the boundaries of contemporary dance forms. The title Torobaka is a combination of toro (bull) and and baca (cow), animals which are significant to Mr Galván’s Spanish and Mr Khan’s Bengali heritages. The abbreviated title Toro recalls the Spanish toreador (bullfighter) and implies a contest.

Akram Khan and Israel Galván (photo by Jean Louis Fernandez)

Akram Khan and Israel Galván (photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez)

Given Mr Khan’s initial training in the Indian classical Kathak dance, a collaboration with Mr Galván, an innovator of Spanish Flamenco, seems ideal and inevitable: both forms rely on rhythmically intricate footwork, as well as physical agility and control. Artistry aside, both artists are innately curious about all styles of dance and continually delve beyond traditional forms. Through unique collaborations with artists in multiple disciplines, both have altered the landscape of dance, while continuing to revise its language. This fall, Mr Khan will debut a new version of the iconic ballet Giselle, a commission for the English National Ballet, which the company’s website touts as ‘one of the most anticipated dance events of 2016.’

Clearly, Mr Khan’s dexterity transcends the mere physical. Happily, Toro must–and will–go on in Toronto. But only until March 12.

News You Can Use

What: Toro created by Akram Khan and Israel Galván

Who:  Akram Khan with David Azura, Christine Leboutte, Bobote and B.C. Manjunath

When: March 9 to 12, 2016

Where: Bluma Appel Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre, 27 Front St. E.

FYI: canadianstage.com or 416-368-3110

Watch the trailer here

© 2016 Arpita Ghosal, Sesaya

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