iTMOi (in the mind of Igor)

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

19/03/2015 - 21/03/2015

Auckland Arts Festival 2015

Production Details

In a nutshell:
Stunning artistic feast / The Rite of Spring revisited / One of the hottest choreographers around

From Akram Khan, choreographer of a major section of the spectacular London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, comes iTMOi (in the mind of igor), a dance work that goes for gold.

Imaginative and intelligent, iTMOi (in the mind of igor) is Khan’s latest full-length ensemble piece  a mind-blowing dance work that showcases his choreographic genius and the groundbreaking vision of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and his most famous ballet,The Rite of Spring

When it was first performed in 1913, The Rite of Spring,with its disruptive music and outrageous design, sent shock waves through the audience. Khan’s iTMOi lures us into Stravinsky’s complex mind, a mind that transformed the shape of classical music and turned the world on its head.

Akram Khan’s company of stupendous dancers mixes modern dance and traditional Kathak to produce indescribable movements shot through with an original vitality. Inspired by Stravinsky’s original, a group of extraordinary composers, including Nitin Sawhney, have created pulsating sounds new to the ear, giving this mythical work its rich and delicate poetry.

Get yourself a ticket to this mind-boggling, must-see event about love, marriage, faith and sacrifice.

Akram Khan – recipient of The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award, UK 2012
The Olivier Award (Dance), UK 2012
The South Bank Sky Arts Award (Dance), UK 2011
Fabiana Piccioli – recipient of the Knight of Illumination Award, Best Lighting Design in Dance for iTMOi, UK 2013

Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells London, MC2: Grenoble, HELLERAU- European Center for the Arts Dresden, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

Photography: J Louis Fernandez

Note: Contains nudity, smoke and loud music

  • THU 19 March 8:00pm
  • FRI 20 March 8:00pm
  • SAT 21 March 8:00pm
DURATION: 1hr 5mins no interval
VENUE: ASB Theatre
PRICE: $35 – $87
Post-show artist talk – Thursday 19 March

More information:

Material devised and performed by Kristina Alleyne, Sadé Alleyne, Ching-Ying Chien, Denis 'Kooné' Kuhnert, Yen-Ching Lin, TJ Lowe, Christine Joy Ritter, Catherine Schaub Abkarian, Nicola Monaco, Blenard Azizaj and Cheng-An Wu. (Previous dancers: Hannes Langolf, Sung Hoon Kim)

Costume Designer - Kimie Nakano
Lighting Designer - Fabiana Piccioli
Scenographer - Matt Deely
Dramaturge - Ruth Little
Researcher - Joel Jenkins
Choreographic Assistants - Andrej Petrovic and Jose Agudo
Set Development and Construction - Sander Loonen andFirma Smits
Sound Designer - Nicolas Faure

Singers (Jocelyn Pook's score)
Melanie Pappenheim, Tanja Tzarovska, Manickam Yogeswaren, Voya Zivkovic, Jocelyn Pook 

Associate Producer - Bia Oliveira
Project Manager - Céline Gaubert

Technical Team on Tour:
Technical Coordinator and Lighting: Richard Fagan or Peter Swikker
Technical Coordinator and Sound: Nicolas Faure
Sound: Peter Swikker or Alex Castro
Costumes and Props: Leila Ransley or Anne-Marie Bigby
Lighting: Paolo Zanin
Technician: Marek Pomocki

Rehearsal Director - Mavin Khoo

Tour Manager - Lies Doms

Akram Khan is an Associate Artist of MC2: Grenoble and Sadler's Wells, London in a special international co-operation

Co-produced by Sadler’s Wells London, MC2: Grenoble, HELLERAU - European Center for the Arts Dresden, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

Sponsored by COLAS

Multi-discipline , Dance-theatre , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hr 5 mins

Auckland Arts Festival: iTMOi

Review by Bernadette Rae 21st Mar 2015

A tormented shriek, a sudden drop into darkness and a tall figure in robes emerges from the shadows, ranting. “God said Only Son God has spoken to Abraham ” His words morph into rap-like chant, morph into rock concert frenzy, loud, terrifying, while taut and terrific bodies stamp, jump, twist, possessed by this thundering music. Stage smoke writhes all around.

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Dark and dynamic with periods of ritual madness

Review by Raewyn Whyte 21st Mar 2015

Akram Khan’s iTMOi purports to share with us what was in the mind of Igor Stravinsky while creating his famous 1913 ballet and orchestral score Le Sacre du printemps, (The Rite of Spring), The score is  now famous for its innovations in musical form, for the associated innovations in choreographic form by Nijinsky in setting dance to it, and for the storm of controversy that erupted on its premiere, halting the debut performance of the ballet when the dancers could not hear the music over the barracking of the audience.  iTMOi, however, appears to focus on Stravinsky’s research into rituals of human sacrifice and his preparation of  the narrative elements underlying his famous score, rather than on anything to do with musical form, and it presents us with several examples of such ritual and their associated symbology, from both pagan and Christian times, presumably part of Stravinsky’s research

iTMOi opens with a shout on a darkly apocalyptic scene, smelling strongly of incense, with smoke underfoot and lightning-like flashes overhead. Light bounces off the bald head of a robed man wearing garments similar to those in The Matrix movies, or priests in Eastern Orthodox religions. The man shouts and rages and paces restlessly, apparently arguing with God about the demand that he, Abraham, sacrifice his son, Isaac. Lurking in the shadows behind him is a horned man, perhaps symbolic of the sacrificial ram whose blood was spilled instead of Isaac’s, or all the rams and goats and deer and other horned animals which have been sacrificed through the ages for whatever reason. 

The main body of the work is presented by eight circling, dashing, capering, rapidly moving figures with elaborately detailed hand and arm gestures, perhaps all members of the same village. They are watched over by the Robed Man, with the Horned Man prowling restlessly on all fours behind them, or occasionally walking upright like Nijinsky’s famous Faun. They passionately, vigorously, rapidly wheel and whirl and circle and fall and roll and leap with feet jumped up underneath their bottoms, constantly waving their arms and making intricate patterns with their fingers. Dressed individually in layered garments of a single colour, at first they seem a strongly communal ensemble, dancing together though not in unison, but individual personas steadily emerge as events roll on, and you have the choice to sit back and let it roll over you, or pay attention to what happens to the individuals.

A statuesque, white-painted woman in a white hooped skirt and enormous elaborately shaped white lacy hat appears, and all action halts as she glides to centre stage where the dancers encircle her, bodies angled towards her and standing as if statues, with a bent arm raised to shoulder height in salute. Dressed like a Minoan snake goddess, though minus the snakes, she is definitely a figure of power, and nobody dares to move without her permission.

It turns out that she is seeking a successor, and when her choice of a slim young woman in white  is made, it is immediately challenged by the Rebel in Mauve, leading to the punishment, torture and death of the rebellious challenger. He is tethered by ropes which are pulled, whipped, and tossed by the villagers, and threatened by the horns of the Horned Man, til his body is a still mass off to one side of the stage.  

The successor dons the hat and starts to recognise what it will mean for her life.

Darkness descends again, and a golden orb begins to swing, set in motion by the Robed Man. The Horned Man appears again, perhaps this time as the counterpart to the Minoan snake goddess, as Dionysus, the Minoan god of ritual madness, theatre, and religious ecstacy. He is joined by a semi-naked woman whose mass of dark hair falls well below her waist, and ritual coupling commences – in the spirit of sacrifice, this can also be seen as rape. The orb swings lower and lower, almost pinning the couple to the floor, then is raised again, leaving room for the couple to depart into the darkness.  

These events are accompanied by a score contributed by three composers, each creating specific sections which are linked by quiet static similar to a record player at the end of a recording. Ben Frost contributes aggressive walls of sound replete with subsonics, which are most evident at moments of high tension and ritual sacrifice. Nitin Sawhney’s music for collective dancing has a tribal feel, strong, percussive rhythms, exotic sampled sounds; and Jocelyn Pook’s contribution is gentler, lyrical songs and melodies which you want to hear more of, somehow.  Stravinsky’s distinctive bassoon motif from Le Sacre appears in the final section, ever so quietly, perhaps suggesting that it is the motif that was decided first, and from that all else followed in the creation of the score for that famous work.

iTMOi is a big work, dark and dynamic, with complex and challenging movement and eleven dancers who deliver entirely superbly exactly what is demanded of them. And yet, it seems to polarise viewers, who seem to love it or to dilslike it intensely. Those who love it say they want to see it again, and  I imagine that they love it because they became immersed in it, that they made the choie to let it wash over them rather than tracking events in a conscious way.   As one who chose to track things, I have to admit to definitely disliking iTMOI, with its long passages of performance oriented inwards to the on-stage community, and the repellent activities occurring there, even though I admire and respect the performers. 


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