Online, Global

29/04/2020 - 29/04/2020

COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020

Production Details

World Premiere – 2nd April 2014, Barbican London

Dust was commissioned as part of English National Ballet’s production Lest We Forget, which commemorates the centenary of the First World War. Akram Khan’s dance is about the empowerment of women in the war, especially as they became the main workforce in the country.

Akram Khan said: “The piece is inspired by two things. First, the concept of a trench, of the young men and old men all going into trenches, and disappearing. The other substantial part was inspired by the women. In WW1 there was a huge social shift towards women. They needed weapons made for the war, they needed a huge workforce. I felt this shift in role was interesting. They knew they would be letting go of fathers, husbands, and sons; they might lose them. Yet they were making weapons that would kill others’ fathers, husbands, and sons. It didn’t matter which side you were on – they both felt loss and death. But in order for someone to live someone else was putting their life on the line. That cyclical thing was what I wanted to explore.”

The full work was made available for broadcast on 29 April 2020.

Short c lips can be seen on You Tube.

Contemporary dance , Dance , Digital presentation ,

30 mins

A raw embodiment of women in war

Review by Nicole Wilkie 01st May 2020

Originally performed at Milton Keynes Theatre in October 2015 as part of the triple bill ‘Lest We Forget’, Akram Khan’s ‘Dust’ is a poignant work focussing on the role of women in World War One. At just under thirty minutes in length, it is a relatively short piece, however, the choreographic design used to impart its themes is intelligent and engaging.

There are several repeated motifs throughout the work, which in no way impede the pace of the work, rather, they serve to further enhance the portrayal of ideas. Revealing of the hands, turning in never-ending spirals, and hitting strong, staunch poses depicting manual labour all permeate the choreographic language. The imagery used in this work is stunning, in particular, the connection of the entire corps of dancers connected hand to elbow, creating mesmerizing undulations that remind me of the double helix shape of DNA.

The lighting is low for the majority of the piece, and a strip of light across the centre of the floor is used, which often highlights forms rather than faces. This design is intentional, giving the audience a sense of foreboding and uncertainty associated with the tribulation of war. The combination of light, music, and movement gives way to a raw embodiment, showing women taking on greater physicality as the men are forced to fight in the trenches. Indeed, the dancing in this work is of a high calibre, in particular seen in the duet section, which demonstrates the strength, flexibility, and skill of both parties.

 ‘Dust’ is truly a gripping work from start to finish. All cast members commit themselves fully to the realisation of the ideas and images presented. This in consolidation with the sound and light design generates a beautiful dance work, despite the dark subject matter.


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