Wednesday, 1 July 2015

REVIEW: Akram Khan & Israel Galván's TOROBAKA

Torobaka - Akram Khan & Israel Galván
Sadler's Wells
Tuesday 30th June 2015 

Using their respective backgrounds in Kathak and Flamenco dance, Akram Khan and Israel Galván come head-to-head (quite literally) in the return of Torobaka at Sadler's Wells. Torobaka, meaning "bull cow", is the coming together of two animals that are sacred to the dancers' two nations. Fundamentally, Torobaka is the coming together of two dance styles.

The work begins with Khan and Galván sitting on the edge of a large, deep pink circle, which acts as a sort of bullring for their duelling and wrestling. Khan whirls, throwing his arms above his head with the same luxurious quality as ever. Seville-born Galván moves with power and electricity, stamping his heels and cutting through the space with a perfectly poised torso.

The men take turns taking the stage, demonstrating the similarities between Kathak and Flamenco- complex rhythms, ferocious passion, and rapid stamping footwork. In fact, Galván's feet move so fast, they seem evocative of the fluttering wings of a hummingbird. Contrastingly, Khan's lines and movements are softened into recognisable South Asian curves.

Interestingly, the three musicians are almost equally as involved as the dancers. Two vocalists perform eclectic Andulsian folk songs and a man sits at the back playing the tabla (drum) and the sitar (stringed instrument). Despite the beauty and talent of the music, the excessive eclecticism begins to feel repetitive.

While Torobaka presents some exceptional talent and technique, both in the dancers and musicians, it does feel incomplete. It is definitely worth watching Khan and Galván tumble around each other, but it might be wise to approach it as a draft of that could evolve into something even more exciting.