“XENOS”: the fates chained

«XENOS»: les destins enchaînés

Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez
In talented storyteller, Akram Khan renders of the First world War the nightmare awake in the trenches.

In talented storyteller, Akram Khan renders of the First world War the nightmare awakened the trenches, where the broken bodies cling to life like a rope fragile to the point of collapse at any time. By this work is a tribute to the soldiers of colonial India in first line during 14-18, the dancer of bangladesh for 43 years to the great but demanding physicality turns a page by pulling his bow as a performer. Doing so, XENOS does not affect performance magnetic which the artist has always been accustomed to.

On stage sits a large inclined plane covered with rope, sort of a side wall of a volcano spewing out of the earth. Below, chairs, and cushions of bright colors evoke the intimacy of a living room which will be swallowed up. As a prelude, the audience is greeted by the singing and the percussion instruments of two musicians present on the plateau. The air sang, sometimes melancholic, sometimes cheerful seems to contain a story. Strong vibrations, such as bombs which rain down on the horizon come and interrupt the lament prior to the scene with a bang, such a figure back from the dead, the character of the soldier played by Akram Khan.

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Tunic off-white, her bare feet the dancer hits of vigorous rhythms ground the echo of the chains wrapped around her ankles — an integral part of the costume khatak, but in the given context is also a reflection of the subjugation of bodies subordinate. His percussive dance, he enters into dialogue with the musical score carried by the two musicians in the scene.

A theatricality supported lives throughout the piece the figures that Akram Khan is back in khatak, indian sacred dance. The movements unfold in curved paths and winding of the arms to the tips of the fingers, as well as rotations are sharp, swift and limitless vanished in judgments crisp and dry.

In the glow of a line of bulbs undergoing multiple short-circuits — a way to include the attacks and bursts of shells —, the body is isolated in the trench, tumbling, crawling, and hanging painfully to the wall resists domestication military. Plunged into the waiting hollow of the trench, the mind wavers. A voice off issued by a turntable allows us to enter into the consciousness of the lonely front of the machine to crush the human that is war. The war of who ? questioned the voice before reciting a list of names of the great forgotten as we read on a scratched disc the epitaph of a monument of remembrance.

Footprints of lyrical and tragic, the scenes follow one another, more poignant. The beauty of the dance and the presence of magnetic Akram Khan are raised by the ropes of five musicians who appear in the background of stage in a process which is subtle. This musical score, sliding a register indian to the Requiem of Mozart, catalyzes the emotions while in a final image this dark world of fates the afflicted and chained subordinates portrayed in XENOS closes in on the dancer.


A creation and with Akram Khan. Presented by Danse Danse at the Théâtre Maisonneuve from 13 to 16 February.