White Bird Brings Akram Khan's "Vertical Road" with Dancers from Asia, Europe and the Middle East to Portland





Who: Akram Khan Company, Vertical Road
Presented by: White Bird
When: Wednesday, October 17, 7:30 pm
Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland
Sponsor: The Oregonian
Tickets: $26-$64 available at www.whitebird.org and at PCPA Box (ZERO ticket fees).  Also available at 1-800-380-3516 (additional fees will apply).
 For the latest information, please visit www.whitebird.org

“Flawless, gutsy, and a joy to behold.”
Time Out Sydney


White Bird is proud to present Akram Khan Company and their acclaimed full-length evening work Vertical Road on Wednesday, October 17 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.  One of the world’s most distinctive choreographers who was chosen to contribute to the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Akram Khan is fascinated with blending different cultures and diverse artistic disciplines.  Vertical Road is inspired by Sufi tradition and the Persian poet and philosopher, Rumi. With a cast of eight remarkable dancers from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Vertical Road has been hailed as a “fertile dance that touches the soul and lingers in the imagination” (The Australian), creating an evening of “rare intelligence and artistry.” (Financial Times)


Set against a vast, rippling silk-like back drop,  Akram Khan’s  8 dancers (from Spain, Greece, Egypt, Algeria, Slovakia,  Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia)  beat clouds of white dust from their flowing costumes as they seemingly come alive to embark on a journey of catharsis and transcendence.  Surging, hypnotic patterns and tightly synchronized ensemble work build ritualized movement that is other-worldly and mystical.  A specially commissioned score by long-term collaborator composer, Nitin Sawhney, combines digital washes and pulsating acoustic percussion to create a timeless atmosphere as the dancers are driven along their epic journey. Khan explains his inspiration for the work: "More and more, I am pulled reluctantly towards a strong horizontal current, which is a place where time is moving at such high velocity, that even our breath is forced to accelerate just in order for us humans to survive. And I have always believed that it is in our slow exhalation where the sense of this deep spiritual energy resides. In a world moving so fast, with the growth of technology and information, I am somehow inclined to move against this current, in search of what it might mean to be connected not just spiritually, but also vertically." 


Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working in Britain today. Born in London into a family of Bangladeshi origin, he started dancing at seven and studied with the renowned Kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar.  Khan began presenting solo performances of his work in the late 1990s, maintaining his commitment to classical Kathak as well as developing modern work. He was Choreographer-in-Residence and later Associate Artist at the Southbank Centre London. Khan is currently an Associate Artist of MC2: Grenoble and Sadler's Wells, London in a special international co-operation. DESH (2011), Khan's first full-length contemporary solo, is a part-autobiographical work which is at once intimate yet epic. Khan's latest contemporary ensemble work Vertical Road (2010) and Gnosis (2009), where he combined his classical Indian and contemporary dance roots, received critical acclaim and continue to tour worldwide.  Besides his company work, Khan also created duets: In-I (2008) with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche, Sacred Monsters (2006) with internationally acclaimed dancer Sylvie Guillem, and award-winning zero degrees (2005) with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui in collaboration with Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney.
Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, South Bank Sky Arts Award, UK Critics' Circle National Dance Award and The Age Critics’ Award (Australia). Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.


Founded in August 2000 by Choreographer Akram Khan and Producer Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company journeys across boundaries to create uncompromising artistic narratives.  The company is renowned for its intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations and for challenging conventional ideas of traditional dance forms. The dance language in each production is rooted in Akram Khan’s classical Kathak and modern dance training, and continually evolves to communicate ideas that are intelligent, courageous and new. Akram Khan Company tours extensively both within the United Kingdom and internationally at leading international festival and venues, performing a diverse range of programs including classical Kathak solos, ensemble productions and artist-to-artist collaborations. The company has been awarded with several prestigious honors including the Olivier Awards for Best New Dance Production (2012, DESH), South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance (2011, Gnosis), The Age Critics’ Award for Best New Work (2010, Vertical Road) at the Melbourne Arts Festival and the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography and Best Male Dancer (2007, zero degrees) in Sydney. 


White Bird’s 15th season (2012-2013) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, PGE Foundation, The Jaffe Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and Starseed Foundation.