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Northrop and Walker Art Center Present AKRAM KHAN, 3/3

Northrop Dance at the University of Minnesota and the Walker Art Center present the Midwest debut of British sensation Akram Khan Company performing bahok at 8 pm Wednesday, March 3, at Northrop. The contemporary work embodies the many different styles of Khan's multinational company, fusing traditional South Asian dance with modern movement.

bahok was originally a collaboration with the National Ballet of China, the first of its kind between a UK contemporary dance company and a state-funded national company in China. Featuring an original score by Akram Khan's long time collaborator Nitin Sawhney, bahok brings together a new company of eight dancers from China, Spain, Slovakia, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and South Africa. In one of this globalized world's transit zones, they come together. They try to communicate, to exchange their stories, their memories of home, and the dreams and aspirations that made them move. They are carriers. They are bahok.

"For nomads, home is not an address, Home is what they carry with them." (John Berger. Hold Everything Dear)

"The dancers are the writers of the show. They are the ones who bring the source material. We search for the little stories that they bring with them and exploring these short stories of each individual, we find a bigger story. That's what fascinates me, to explore these personal stories of these individuals on stage, in order to discover and reveal a more universal one." (Akram Khan)

bahok premiered in Beijing in January 2008, gained rave reviews and international acclaim on its subsequent world tour, and following this success, bahok has embarked on its second tour in 2009-2010.

Founded in August 2000 by choreographer Akram Khan and producer Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company has established itself as one of the foremost innovative dance companies, performing to sell-out audiences in leading festivals and venues around the world. Embracing an artistic principal that both respects and challenges tradition and modernity, the company has become renowned for its intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations. It has been nominated for several prestigious honors including the Laurence Olivier Awards for zero degrees in 2006, and the South Bank Show Awards for bahok in 2009.

Making bahok
This production is the first of its kind, originally created with the National Ballet of China in 2006 in a commitment to try something new, an enthusiasm for an idea, and the ambition to convert this idea into something that could be beautiful and meaningful.

Needless to say there were challenges in bringing together the resources of a large flagship national ballet company with that of a small independent contemporary troupe halfway across the world. There were obvious ones such as language, culture, movement styles, and availability, but also less obvious ones such as the hope for reinvention, developing new expectations, and reflecting inner and outer aspirations. They had to learn a lot of new rules, demand more of themselves, and develop more sophisticated means of cooperation. Akram Khan Company and the National Ballet of China were up to the task.

Collaboration for the company is not just a means of artistic possibility but a great opportunity to learn from other cultures and disciplines. It is through this learning that one finds the greatest satisfaction. Within these challenges a story was born, a modern interpretation of being "lost in translation."

Akram Khan | Artistic Director & Choreographer
Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working in Britain today. Born in London into a family of Bangladeshi origin in 1974, he began dancing at the age of seven. He studied with the great Kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar, later becoming his disciple. He began his stage career at the age of 14, when he was cast in Peter Brook's legendary production of Mahabharata, touring the world between 1987 and 1989 and appearing in televised version of the play broadcast in 1988.

Following later studies in contemporary dance and a period working with Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's Brussels-based X-Group project, he began presenting solo performances of his work in the 1990s, maintaining his commitment to the classical kathak repertoire as well as modern work. Among his best-known solo pieces are: Polaroid Feet (2001), Ronin (2003), and Third Catalogue (2005).

In August 2000, he launched his own company which has provided him with a platform for innovation and an increasingly diverse range of work through collaboration with artists from other disciplines, including theatre, film, visual arts, music, and literature. As Choreographer-in-Residence and later Associate Artist at the Southbank Centre, he presented a recital with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Sri Pratap Pawar, and A God of Small Tales, a piece for mature women for which he collaborated with writer Hanif Kureishi. He remained an Associate Artist at the Southbank Centre until April 2005, the first non-musician to be afforded this status, and is currently an Associate Artist at Sadler's Wells.

Akram's latest work In-I is a collaboration with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche, visual design by Anish Kapoor, and music composition by Philip Sheppard. It premiered in September 2008 at the National Theatre in London, and undertook a major international tour.

Other major works include Sacred Monsters (2006), featuring ballerina Sylvie Guillem, with additional choreography by Lin Hwai Min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre in Taipei; Variations (2006), a collaboration with London Sinfonietta to celebrate the 70th birthday of composer Steve Reich; and zero degrees (2005), a collaboration with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley, and Nitin Sawhney, which was nominated for the 2006 Laurence Olivier Awards (Best New Dance Production), and won the prestigious Helpmann Award in Australia for Best Choreography in a Dance Work in 2007.

Among his earlier notable company works are Kaash (2002), a collaboration with artist Anish Kapoor and composer Nitin Sawhney; and ma (2004), with text by Hanif Kureishi, for which he received a South Bank Show Award in 2005.

Akram Khan was also invited by Kylie Minogue to choreograph a section of her new Showgirl concert, which opened in Australia in November 2006, and toured to the UK in January 2007.
Akram Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Jerwood Foundation Choreography Award (2000), Outstanding Newcomer to Dance Award from both the Dance Critics' Circle (2000) and Time Out Live (2000), Best Modern Choreography from the Dance Critics' Circle (2002), the International Movimentos Tanzpreis (2004) for Most Promising Newcomer in Dance, a South Bank Show Award (2005), the 2005 Critics' Circle National Dance Awards for Outstanding Male or Female Artist (modern), and was nominated for a Nijinsky Award for Best Newcomer (2002).

More recently, he was awarded the 2007 Excellence in International Dance Award by the InterNational Theatre Institute, and Best Male Dancer in the prestigious annual Helpmann Awards held in Sydney, Australia in 2007. He has been nominated again for this award for his recent performance in In-I.

In 2004, Akram received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from De Montfort University for his contribution to the UK arts community and was awarded an MBE for his services to Dance in 2005.

Nitin Sawhney | Composer
Nitin Sawhney is firmly established as a world-class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer, and cultural pioneer, a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance, and theater.

Sawhney has released eight studio albums, receiving no less than 17 major national awards for his work. London's Outcaste Records released the breakthrough Gold-selling Beyond Skin in '99, which took a prestigious Technics Mercury Music Prize nomination and won Sawhney the coveted South Bank Show Award. Subsequently, Sawhney signed a multiple album deal to Richard Branson's V2 Records, and released the millennial epic and Gold certified Prophesy in 2001, winning a MOBO Award as well as a BBC Radio three Music Award.

Sawhney's seventh studio album, Philtre, was released in May 2005, winning another BBC Radio three Award and he has recently released his eighth album, London Undersound. Clubland has seen three international album releases by Sawhney: All Mixed Up, FabricLive.15, and In the Mind of....Nitin Sawhney. He has toured each of his albums extensively and has sold out many of the world's most prestigious venues. Sawhney has worked with a host of artists including Sting, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor, A R Rahman, Jeff Beck, Brian Eno, Fink, and Will Young.

In 2007 Sawhney co-produced the sophomore album for Atlantic Records artist Get Cape.Wear Cape.Fly.

To date, Sawhney has scored over forty films, as well as having scored TV ads for top international agencies. His music for Channel Four's Second Generation saw him nominated for the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Film and TV Composition (2004). Recent works include orchestral scores for Mira Nair's The Namesake, Sony Playstation 3's Heavenly Sword, and Franz Osten's silent film classic, A Throw of Dice, which he wrote for the London Symphony Orchestra. Sawhney will also be scoring Deepa Mehta's forthcoming Exclusion, Henrique Goldman's, The Fifth Beatle, and the directorial debut of legendary actor Andy Serkis, Dark Blue Rising.

An acclaimed flamenco guitarist and classical/jazz pianist, Sawhney's musical ability to transcend cultural barriers has also gained him much recognition within the classical community. He has also worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra on Natural World Symphony, and the London Philharmonia on The Namesake. In 2004, Sawhney was commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia to compose several new performance works. Other commissions include 2000's Urban Prophecies for BBC Proms, 2001's Neural Circuits for the Britten Sinfonia and leading British pianist, Joanna, and a commissioned concert for 2006, Electric Proms. 2007's BBC Proms featured a retrospective of Nitin Sawhney's works by way of a sold-out groundbreaking orchestral performance at the Royal Albert Hall, and was followed by an Electric Proms full orchestral commission, consolidating Sawhney as the only artist to have performed at and sold out both the traditional and pop-orientated BBC Proms in his own right.

In 2000 Sawhney produced the Varekai album for Cirque du Soleil, taking his unique sound to an even-wider audience. In 2002 he worked with Akram Khan and Anish Kapoor, scoring the music to Khan's critically acclaimed choreographed work Kaash, and also wrote the music for Khan's Zero Degrees (nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award, and designed by Antony Gormley). Sawhney has recently been presented with a Bessie Award in New York City for his work on Zero Degrees. Sawhney also scored Khan's latest work, bahok, a collaboration with the National Ballet of China and is due to present a two-week celebration of Indian music and dance at Sadlers Wells, Svapnagata, to be co-curated between Sawhney and Khan. Recent works in theater include Simon McBurney's Olivier award-winning A Disappearing Number for Complicite, the Mahabharata adaptation by Olivier award-winning writer Stephen Clarke and Jonathan Holmes' Fallujah.

Much of Sawhney's attention remains focused on the areas of education and community building, accepting the role of Artist in Residence for no less than five separate performing arts organisations around the world. Sawhney joined Sir George Martin as a patron for the British Government's Access-to-Music program and is also patron of the Raindance East Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. In 2006 Sawhney was awarded an Honorary Graduate Degree from London's South Bank University and in late 2007 was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Kent. In 2008 Sawhney was made a fellow of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and this year he receives three more Honorary Doctorates from the universities of Sussex, Staffordshire, and Roehampton.

Guy Cools | Dramaturge
Guy Cools trained as a dramaturge and became involved with the new developments in dance in Flanders from the 1980s, initially as a dance critic, and from 1990 onwards as theatre and dance director of Arts Centre Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium. In that capacity he was responsible for collaborations with a variety of international dance companies. As vice-president of the Dance Council he contributed to the cultural policy for dance of the Flemish community. He curated dance events in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Venice and Montréal, and still works as an artistic consultant for Place des Arts, Montréal. He left Vooruit to dedicate himself full time to production dramaturgy with Koen Augustijnen (Les Ballets C de la B), Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Danièle Desnoyers (Montréal), Lia Haraki (Cyprus), Sara Wookey (Los Angeles), Anabel Schellekens (Belgium) and to return to his old passions of teaching, writing, giving workshops, lecturing and publishing in Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Greece. Since 2004, he has lived in Montréal, Canada.

Fabiana Piccioli | Lighting Designer
Fabiana Piccioli studied Philosophy at University La Sapienza di Roma. From 1999 to 2002 she worked as a dancer in Rome and Brussels. She was then Technical Coordinator and Production Manager at the Romaeuropa Festival from 2002 to 2004. She joined Akram Khan Company as Technical Manager in 2005. Fabiana Piccioli was the Lighting Designer for two Akram Khan Company productions, Variations for Vibes, Strings and Pianos - a collaboration between Akram Khan Company and the London Sinfonietta (2006), and bahok, a collaboration with the National Ballet of China (2008). She also co-designed the set for bahok.

Farooq Chaudhry | Producer
Farooq Chaudhry was born in Pakistan. He graduated from the London Contemporary Dance School in 1986. As a professional dance artist he worked in a variety of dance mediums in various European countries, the highlight being his time as a company member of the Belgian modern dance company Rosas during the mid nineties. In 1988 he received an Asian Achievement Award for his work as a dancer. He retired from dancing in 1999 after which he completed an MA in Arts Management from City University in London. As a freelance dance manager he teamed up with Akram Khan in 1999. A year later they co-founded the Akram Khan Company. Farooq Chaudhry has played a key role in forming innovative business models for Akram Khan's artistic ambitions, as well as offering creative support during the development of Akram Khan's projects; he is currently the company producer. He is a "project champion" for Arts Council England's Cultural Leadership programme and a member of Dance UK's Board. He was recently acknowledged in a new publication by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a list of the world's top hundred cultural actors and entrepreneurs.

ChrisTina Paul | Tour Manager
ChrisTina Paul was born in London and grew up in Hong Kong. She studied World Theatre and Visual Arts at the United World College of Hong Kong, and won a scholarship to attend the Mountview Theatre School in London in 1999. She holds an MA degree in Japanese and Chinese Studies from Oxford University, where she graduated with first class honors in 2006. She went on to train at the London Contemporary Dance School where she studied Kathak with Gauri Tripathi. Christina joined the Akram Khan Company in July 2007 as interpreter and later tour manager for bahok and In-I.

John Luckacovic and Eleanor Oldham| North American Tour Direction, 2Luck Concepts
In eight short years, among their many projects, John and Eleanor produced, booked and/or managed the first-ever North American tours of the celebrated George Piper Dances/Ballet Boyz; Akram Khan's Kaash, MA, Sacred Monsters featuring Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem and the recent In-I featuring Akram Khan and Juliette Binoche; London's Shakespeare's Globe Original Practice productions of Twelfth Night and Measure for Measure and the currently touring Love's Labours Lost; the critically acclaimed Stan Won't Dance's Sinner; a 12 week/50 city tour of Moscow's Helikon Opera and the first-in-10 years tour of Poland's Mazowsze (coordinated with a major public television special). Upcoming projects include former Globe Artistic Director Mark Rylance's company Phoebus Cart, continuing Mark's dedication to Original Practice; the return of the Irish physical theatre company CoisCeim; bahok with the Akram Khan Company; Belgian choreographer, Sidi Larbi's Aprocrifu; and two new works by Akram Khan, Gnosis and Vertical Road.

Shanell Winlock | Dancer
Shanell Winlock was born in South Africa and did most of her dance training in Johannesburg. She worked with various South African-based choreographers including Gregory Vuyani Maqoma (vuyani dance and theatre project), Sylvia Glasser (Moving Into Dance, maphatong) and PJ Sabagga (the forgotten angle collaboration). During her time with these choreographers she won various awards including most outstanding female performer for the FNB dance awards for three consecutive years. In 1998 she was awarded a scholarship to join PARTS (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) under the direction of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, in Brussels, where she studied for one year. Shanell was invited by Akram Khan to join his company in 2001. bahok is her fifth production with Akram Khan Company.

Eulalia Ayguade Farro | Dancer
Eulalia Ayguade Farro is from Barcelona, Spain. She studied at the Institut del Teatre. In 1998 she moved to PARTS (Performing Arts Research and Training Studio) in Brussels run by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. From 2001 she worked with Publik Eye Company in Denmark and then joined Akram Khan Company in 2003 for kaash and later ma. She has also made her own work with Anton Lachky in Twice Read (2005), and worked with Enclave Dance Company, Brussels in 2006. She has also worked with choreographer Hofesh Shechter, performing in Uprising, In Your Rooms and the Art of Not Looking Back. bahok is Eulalia's third production with Akram Khan Company.

Young-Jin Kim | Dancer
Young Jin Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea. He graduated from the Korean National University of Art in 2003 with an MA in Dance Performance. Young Jin started the company Laboratory Dance Project (LDP) with fellow graduates. LDP gave him the opportunity to choreograph and to work with renowned choreographers. Among them were Micha Purucker, Ismael Ivo, and Izotok Kovac. Young Jin joined Akram Khan Company in 2005 for ma and in 2006 performed in Variations for Vibes, Strings, and Pianos. He also worked with choreographer Hofesh Shechter in Uprising and In Your Rooms in 2007. bahok is Young Jin's third production with Akram Khan Company.

Andrej Petrovic | Dancer
Andrej Petrovic was born in Bojnice, Slovak Republic. After graduating from the dance conservatory in Banska Bystrica, Andrej joined Studio Tanca Professional Dance Theatre/Zuzana Hájková. He is one of the co-founders of the professional dance company Dajv/Marta Polákova. He has collaborated with Editta Braun company Salzburg, Fatou Traore Brussels, and Giorgio Barberio Corsetti/ Fatore Kappa Physical Theatre in Rome. Andrej has also choreographed for dance movies in collaboration with Juraj Korec The Day/director Jozef Vlk. Recently, he worked with Jean Abreu Dance Company in London, Jaroslav Vinarsky/Prague and has been studying at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Bratislava. Andrej joined Akram Khan Company in 2007.

Saju | Dancer
Saju was born in Kerala (South India) and is now living in London and Birmingham. He graduated in Electronics Engineering in Bangalore, before training in contemporary dance and martial art Kalaripayattu with Jayachandran at Attakkalari, touring with Imlata Dance Company in City Maps and TransAvatar (UK, India, Germany and Switzerland, 1998-2003). Since moving to London, Saju danced with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and with Bedlam Dance Company. Saju danced the lead in Holst's opera Savitri (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra), worked on the West End musical The Far Pavilions and Jatinder Verma's The Merchant of Venice (Tara Arts) as well as William Tuckett's Thief of Baghdad in the Linbury Studio for Christmas 2008. His own choreographies were commissioned by The Place, Royal Opera House New Currents and included two shortlisted works for The Place Prize. Saju attended the prestigious Vienna DanceWEB Summer school in 2006 on scholarship, participated in Kim Brandstrup's Dance:lines choreolab (Royal Opera House 2006), and won an Arts Council International Fellowship to study in Nairobi 2007. Saju has been Associate Artist at UK Foundation for Dance, and at Woking Dance Festival 2007. bahok is Saju's first production with Akram Khan Company.
Cheng-Fung Wu | Dancer
Cheng-Fung Wu was born in Taiwan and studied ballet at the Imperial Eleven Ballet before being exposed to other styles of training at the Taipei National University of the Arts. She later went on to study at Purchase College, State University of New York on a scholarship and graduated with a Bachelors degree in 2007. She has worked with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal under Gradimir Pankov and has also participated in several professional dance projects in North America. In 2008 she began her studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts for her Master of Fine Arts. Throughout her career, Cheng-Fang Wu has performed works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Nacho Duato, Peter Quanz, Edgar Zendejas, Helen Pickett, Lauri Stallings, Sarah Slippers, Raewyn Hills, John Utans, and Yuri Ng.

Set-Byeol Lim | Dancer
Set-Byeol Lim was born in Seoul, Korea. She studied at Seoul Art High School, and graduated from the Korean National University of Arts in 2009, where she majored in Contemporary Performance. She won 2nd Prize in the annual Dong-A Dance Competition, and has performed extensively with the Korea National University of Arts Dance Company around Korea and the US. bahok is her first production with the Akram Khan Company.

Sung-Hoon Kim | Dancer
Sung-Hoon Kim was born in Seoul, Korea. He graduated from the Korean National University of Art with an MA in Dance Performance. Since 2004 he has been a member of the Laboratory Dance Company in Seoul. He teaches extensively, and has performed and choreographed for numerous venues and festivals around Korea and internationally. bahok is his first production with the Akram Khan Company.

Individual tickets ($31-$55) on sale at Northrop's Website and through the Northrop Ticket Office at 612-624-2345, or room 105 Northrop, 84 Church Street SE, Minneapolis. Discounts are available.

 



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