Tuesday, 16 September 2008

'in-i' - akram khan + juliette binoche

by Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan


visual design by Anish Kapoorand

music composition by Philip Sheppard

lighting design by Michael Hulls

sound design by Nicolas Faure

If the Greeks had 14 words to describe different ways of loving, how many dare we experience?
A major new work of dance theatre created by one of the world’s leading dancer/choreographers, Akram Khan, and actress Juliette Binoche.
Throughout their careers, Binoche and Khan have both sought out surprising and daring collaborations. Akram Khan has always taken an inter-disciplinary approach to dance and his collaborators have included Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney (zero degrees), Sylvie Guillem (Sacred Monsters) and Hanif Kureishi.
Similarly, Juliette Binoche has made artistically challenging choices with directors such as Michael Haneke (Hidden) and Louis Malle (David Hare’s screenplay Damage), and has starred in award-winning films including The English Patient and Chocolat.Creating the environment for the duet is Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor.
in-i is a unique collaboration between three of today’s most exciting artists.

So seeing this the second time I now completely love it!
This time I am easily and fully immersed and this time what it is all seems so clear and evocative and resonant - like reading a novel except they are providing the sounds and pictures and we are making the story (whereas in a novel we make the sounds & pictures from the story the writer gives us). And watching this time it seems so obvious that they are bringing us a fictional story of the trajectory - the rise and clash and fall and remaking of a relationship that is raw from the scaring of past hurts - his from the Mullah as a boy, hers from (his?) violence and both from each other's fierceness.

So why was this second time such a richer experience for me?
A lot has to do with what I brought I think and at the preview show I limited my experience by expecting way too little perhaps: I forgot what a storyteller Akram's is, how his desire to tell a story is what propels and drives his shows, how much he wants to use sound and movement and rhythm to reach and communicate with us. At the preview I think I just sat and watched it as a display of a series of abstract skilfully made images, not looking for a complete narrative and so not seeing any. Then too I wonder if I let myself become distracted by their celebrity - I looked at this to see versions of Akram's Khan and Juliette Binoche when of course the point was to look past and through these 'names' to the people and their story they are making. (the exact opposite to the problem of trying to get 'visibility inside invisibility' cited today for new black performance of needing to become invisible from heightened visibility)
But I think too this show was more formed and performed: I suspect it needed audience responses to find its cadences and punctuation and energy flows to become a finished work. As well as the time and repetitions to transcend its parts and fly out from the performance space.

So 'in-i' now gives me an achingly recognisable series of moments layered into complex textures of personality clashes, dynamics of competing domination, funny awful mismatches of gender behaviours, soft intimate almost too private moments of connection, fighting currents of inner conflict as head wars with emotions, impulse jars against learned responses, past experience contaminates spontaneity. Moving & funny & personal & vivid & memorable.

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