World-renowned Akram Khan's choreography, seen most widely during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, comes to Yale on Tuesday, April 30 when Yale Dance Theater (YDT) and members of Khan's company stage a lecture-demonstration of his work.
The demonstration will take place at 8 p.m. at the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School Theater, 177 College St. Admission is free, but tickets are required.
The collaboration makes Yale the first U.S. university to work with Khan's company, giving its students the chance to learn the choreography of one of this generation's most acclaimed dance artists, in an approach to arts education that emphasizes the importance of arts-based research within a liberal-arts curriculum, says YDT faculty director, Emily Coates.
In mid-April, two Akram Khan Company dancers — Eulalia Ayguade Farro of Spain, and Young Jin Kim of South Korea — began a three-week residency at Yale, working with 13 Yale students nine hours a week and guiding their research into 21st-century contemporary dance practice. Through intense movement exercises drawing on different traditions and including the mastery of specific rhythms and gestures, the YDT dancers have explored Khan's unique synthesis of cultural forms.
Steeped in the Indian classical dance kathak and contemporary European dance traditions, Khan's work is "emblematic of 21st-century mobility," says Coates, as it relies on the body's "kinesthetic logic" to integrate multiple cultural forms and transform those forms into a new style of movement. Through learning Khan's choreography, the students gain intimate understanding of what it means to craft new modes of expression that speak to present-day concerns, notes Coates, adding that the process is analogous to the research Yale students do in their other courses.
To prepare for the lecture-demonstration, YDT dancers deepen their understanding of Khan's movement by immersing themselves in it — using their bodies, their voices, and, eventually, their writing as research tools. As part of their research, YDT dancers post their written work.
The Akram Khan Company residency concludes YDT's semester-long investigation of cutting-edge contemporary dance spanning both sides of the Atlantic. The first half of the project focused on the work of Brooklyn-based choreographer Reggie Wilson and his company Fist and Heel Performance Group. For more information on Yale Dance Theater's spring 2013 project, visit the YDT website.
Khan began presenting solo performances of his work in the late 1990s, maintaining his commitment to classical kathak as well as developing modern work. Khan is currently an associate artist of MC2: Grenoble and Sadler's Wells, London in a special international cooperation. His work has received numerous awards and tours worldwide.
YDT's spring 2013 project is sponsored by the Arts Discretionary Fund in Yale College and the Lionel F. Conacher and Joan T. Dea Fund, in cooperation with the dance studies curriculum, Theater Studies Program, and Alliance for Dance at Yale.