Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Torobaka

Torobaka, Akram Khan and Israel Galván, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 3rd November
  
Akram Khan and Israel Galván in Torobaka
Photo: Jean Louis Fernandez
In Torobaka, Akram Khan and Israel Galván combine their respective dance styles of kathak and flamenco. Whilst the show is a clear demonstration of both dancers’ skills, its choreography is hard to connect with.
  
On a bare stage with only a large circle of coloured flooring centre stage, Torobaka starts in silence as Khan and Galván battle for rhythmic superiority. Five musicians punctuate their key movements with vocalisations and drum beats, although without the precise timing required for maximum impact. As choreography develops, the similarities between kathak and flamenco become apparent, as both include rhythmical stamping and expressive arm and hand gestures.
   
Through the rest of the 80 minute show, the two dancers perform alone and together (with musician-only interludes in between), but action becomes increasingly difficult to engage with. A hand-over-mouth motif is repeated as performers try to drown out each others’ vocals. Other movements either demand easy laughs or feel introverted and uninviting. The show seems more like an experimental exercise for those onstage rather than a performance designed for an audience.
   
Khan and Galván are extremely talented performers but their combined choreography for Torobaka left me underwhelmed.

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