Royal Festival Hall choreographer in residence Akram Khan teams up with the celebrated talents of Anish Kapoor (set design) and Nitin Sawhney (composer) to present his company’s first full length evening work KAASH (Hindi word for “if”). “Hindu Gods, black holes, Indian time cycles, tablas, creation and destruction” are the starting points for this new work. Danced by a strong international cast of five performers, KAASH continues Akram Khan’s quest to build bridges between the worlds of contemporary dance and the Indian classical dance form Kathak.

After it’s premiere in May 2002, the London press was unanimous in its praise:

The Guardian 13 May 2002

It is like watching the aftermath of the Big Bang, with Khan’s choreography as the fallout. He and his four dancers occupy the stage like a collective force field, fracturing and reforming their tight little groupings, wheeling across the stage like sheet lightning. They are a complex equation of pure mass, pure speed, pure energy. Their limbs slice through the dense mathematics of the percussion and their flickering gestures decorate its surface.

The Times 15 May 2002

Khan’s barefoot choreography bursts out of the starting gate faster than a bullet, arms powering the dancers’ bodies like competitive swimmers heading for the finish line. The choreography strives for perfection and rigour, building its absolutes with regimental precision.

The Sunday Telegraph 19 May 2002

Like a great athlete [Khan] combines an unnerving, almost menacing speed with an utterly centered serenity.

The Sunday Times 19 May 2002

Khan is a charismatic innovator in blending Kathak and contemporary dance techniques – mercurial, masterful in his brilliant alternations of speed and stillness. He and his fellow dancers scythe and slice, spin and whirl through this force field with breathtaking momentum. The effect is hypnotic.

The Independent on Sunday 19 May 2002

It’s easy to be in awe of Khan’s skin-flaying bursts of speed, but his stillnesses are near miraculous.

Financial Times 17 May 2002

Not since Mark Morris emerged in the mid 1980s have I seen any dancer-choreographer so able, so accomplished; and in certain ways Khan’s sheer mastery is more awesome. There are some quintets in Kaash that are the most sophisticated since Merce Cunningham.

The Independent 15 May 2002

The dance, the projections, the score and the lighting mesh together to hit you head-on and resound in your mind long after. The effect is so richly theatrical that by the end you feel as if you have lived a whole drama, even though there is no narrative. Khan manages the tricky balance of forging a new language that looks updated but loses none of its old density. He returns to Kathak’s traditional spins and arms, but fragments them like retrieved memories, or tilts or otherwise transmutes them. He laces in new movement and variously etched poses and group patterns. The dancers hit the beat of the drums as in Kathak, but just as often they rebelliously weave around it.

The Daily Telegraph 14 May 2002

…epic, deeply focused and grandly beautiful…

Evening Standard 13 May 2002

Sculptor Anish Kapoor (with lighting designer Aideen Malone) produced a fascinating set, a hypnotic colour field that seemed to exert a physical pull on the audience, drawing us inexorably into the depths of space. Nitin Sawhney’s pounding, driving, rhythmic score was equally powerful, punching you in the solar plexus and making your bones vibrate.

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