Review: ITMOI (In the Mind of Igor)

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 10:14am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 10:17am

ITMOI (In the Mind of Igor)
Akram Khan Company
HK Cultural Centre Grand Theatre
Reviewed: Mar 6

Akram Khan has been a regular visitor in recent years with his solo performance masterpiece Desh and his collaborations with international divas Sylvie Guillem and Juliette Binoche. This time is the turn of Khan's company, made up of 11 dancers from a variety of countries and dance backgrounds, with a much-praised new piece.

ITMOI (In the Mind of Igor) was created last year to mark the centenary of Igor Stravinksy's The Rite of Spring which, with Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography, created massive controversy when it premiered in 1913.

Rather than create a piece set to the original music, Khan commissioned a new score by three composers: Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost. The idea is for the choreographer and composers to take inspiration from the groundbreaking work and try to break new ground themselves.

Khan's piece opens with quotations from the biblical story of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. In his piece a young girl dressed in white appears to be the chosen victim, but it is the man who tries to save her who is killed.

The work is admirably ambitious - perhaps too much so - but makes for tremendous theatre. Many of the individual segments are powerful and the dark, brooding atmosphere, with flashes of brutality, is a fitting tribute to The Rite of Spring. However, the piece suffers from a lack of structure and the overall effect is more confused than profound.

The choreography draws on the many disciplines from which the dancers come. The entire cast perform with passion and commitment. Stand-outs include the blazing energy of Christine Joy Ritter, Nicola Monaco's glorious sinuosity as the horned figure and Denis Kuhnert's brilliant use of moves derived from breakdancing.

The score is strong, but it is a pity there is no way of knowing which composer was responsible for which part, Kimie Nakano's costumes are well imagined and Fabiana Piccioli's lighting design is absolutely stunning.

Natasha Rogai