Akram Khan interview, December 2017

Akram Khan in conversation with Christopher Bannerman, 19 December 2017

Christopher Bannerman writes:

One of the most interesting aspects of ResCen’s ArtsCross collaboration with Beijing Dance Academy (BDA) and Taipei University of the Arts (TNUA) is the numerous events that are not documented, and not part of the ‘official’ project. These are chance meetings, café discussions, dance studio events and performances that are not part of, but have connections to, or through the project, sometimes to the wider network of people who have been involved or seen performances; all of which spiral out into their communities of practice.

So it was with Chinese classical dance artist HUA Xiaoyi who saw the ArtsCross performances and then approached my BDA colleague XU Rui to ask if she could somehow become involved in ArtsCross, even though she was not able to join the formal projects. This led to discussions about how to explore other opportunities for inter/transcultural collaborations and to the idea of a performance that would focus on Xiaoyi as one of China’s leading classical artists exploring more personal and contemporary territory.

In London discussions with Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company (AKC) Executive Producer, and with Akram Khan himself, led to an agreement that Akram would create a work as part of Xiaoyi’s performance; and that she would participate in workshops in China that were part of Farooq’s work there. The workshops in China included AKC dancer Joy Alpuerto Ritter, who then choreographed for ArtsCross Beijing 2019, a choice inspired by her solo, BABAE (2018) choreographed for the Portraits in Otherness programme curated by Akram and Farooq and presented at the Lilian Baylis Studio Theatre at Sadler’s Wells.

I hope that the narrative thread through these events is clear, but in fact, it is also entirely correct to say that these events represent only a few of what often feels like random happenstances of creative and inspiring ideas many of which have not, or have not yet, been fulfilled. Some ideas, sometimes, somehow develop into something that makes a mark in the world. Later the thread of development seems clear but at any one time that thread is only one strand of energy out of many that are interweaving themselves into a constantly shifting tapestry.

This is a mark of ArtsCross, and of ResCen itself, as both engage with a dynamic, internationalised, creative sector that is always fizzing with ideas and exchanging them through networks of artists, producers and others. These webpages seek to capture something of the exchange between Akram and Xiaoyi and make up one of four Other Voices presentations here on the ResCen website.

HUA Xiaoyi, Every Moment premiere at Beijing Poly Theatre, 31 October 2017