TOROBAKA, meaning bulls and cows in Spanish as the sacred animals in Spain and India, is the latest collaboration between two titans in contemporary dance: Akram Khan and Israel Galván. Both highly admired, they are two of the most accomplished choreographers working today and also two of the most virtuoso performers. Although rooted in very different dance styles, Khan in kathak and Galván in flamenco, both artists have innovated, energised and taken to a new level their art forms. Highly experimental, but still rooted in traditions and accessible to a wider audience.
Photo courtesy Sadler's Wells
However, Khan was not keen on exploring the kathac/flamenco connection. It had be done before with varying degrees of success. When he was invited to see Galván dance, he decided to go ahead:
"That changed my whole opinion. I thought, here's an artist who is literally destroying and deconstructing [flamenco] in his own way. He's creating his own version, and not just in a psychological or intellectual way, he's doing it physically. I thought, ok, I want to work this man."
Sadler's Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan is one of the most exciting UK dancers today and has, in just over a decade, created a highly imaginative, accessible and relevant body of work, including productions such as DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.
The multi-award-winning Israel Galván has been at the forefront of contemporary flamenco for 20 years and had appeared several times at Sadler's Wells' Flamenco Festival. He is known for his innovative choreography and exquisitely daring dancing technique.
"Many people are not aware of the shared roots of kathak and flamenco. But one need only compare a Spanish dancer performing a bulería with an Indian dancer performing a tukda to see the relationship between the two. My collaboration with Israel has therefore been tremendously exciting, and a profound learning experience for both of us. We hope it proves an equally enriching encounter for our audience."
"It is always an honour to grace the Sadler's Well's stage at the Flamenco Festival. And now, I'm thrilled to be able to bring such an exciting new project to the London audience. Akram and I are trying to redefine the boundaries of our own respective dance traditions, in what we hope is a truly one-of-a-kind collaboration."
David Azurza and Christine Leboutte provided the voices framing the several pieces during the performance. Both inhabit a rich repertoire of voices as if rather than two people there were four or five singers on stage. Bobote currently one of the most in-demand palmeros (rhythm-clappers) on the flamenco scene and considered a wizard of compás (flamenco rhythm) added a touch of magia to the evening. He was well-accompanied by the percussionist B C Manjunath and the drummer Bernhard Schimperlsberger.
Photo courtesy Sadler's Wells
TOROBAKA while still referencing flamenco and kathak, it is an art form on its own. Unexpectedly humorous, an open laboratory where anything goes. It keeps building up momentum by a constant stream of solo and duo performances. A learning journey into the new and the unknown; into a world that is more global than never. Khan and Galván has developed a new language for a cosmopolitan audience. They raised to the challenge and succeeded in creating something beautiful, respectful to each other and a treat to the eye. A series of moments that will remain in each other's memories for a long time. Rather than bulls and cows, I would say a herd of horses: majestic, untamed and highly intelligent.
TOROBAKA, a Sadler's Wells co-production, at Sadler's Wells from Monday 3 - Saturday 8 November 2014. For more information, please visit website: www.sadlerswells.com