Review by Helene Vidovich and Martin Thomas
Vertical Road, by Akram Khan Company was a journey through the mystical. Using only a scrim and backlight, one dancer's shadow started the audience down the primordial path. What was this Whirling Dervish so frantically writhing, sending shimmers of shadow and light up and down the scrim – the Book of Life, a poem by Rumi?
|Vertical Road Photo By: Richard Haughton|
Lights up, scrim down, statues/dancers frozen, one moving figure and a set of runes -- we watched as the dancers were frozen, or prayed, or waited, discovered, disagreed, failed or eventually grew.
The troupe explored or helped us search our psyches. For example: the on-again off-again relationships of the "teacher-apprentice," the "lovers," the "life of prayer and mindful intentions" or "meditation while waiting for the path to open," and the "embrace of the shadow." A path opens a moment ~ closes, and later reopens. The false starts reflect how we as humans have opportunities to grow. At times, we make bad choices, which close the door. We must go back to reflect, which can eventually, reopen the door.
The ensemble moved with such synchronicity, it appeared they were even breathing together. It reminded Martin of the funny-mirrors at the carnival where one subject appears in a variety of shapes all at once; moving fluidly about the stage. And, Helene associated their twirling segment with the Olympic synchronized swimming event or an old Busby Berkeley film. At times they would sit in prayer as a Sangha, or freeze standing like statues. Another effect used what appeared to be dust from statues that broke into real life people. This gave the illusion of the iconic becoming alive after long periods of hibernation.
The music and sounds, like the stage, were minimalistic. But, much was lost as the bass drum, and occasional other sounds, were so loud that earplugs were used which blurred some of the more subtle sonic interplay. Are the bass drum half notes really 10-20 db more important than the violin section?
Overall, Akram Khan Company was quite exciting and seemed to be telling my story. (Martin)
It was my story. (Helene)
I thought it was mine. (Martin)
As our reviewers agree to disagree it can be said that the Vertical Road was a huge success.
Helene Vidovich, Freelance Cultural Reporter
Martin Thomas, Videographer ~ Troubadour