Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan in London

(photo by Tristram Kenton from The Guardian)

Oh, I am so jealous of anyone who’s in London right now. I went to the bookstore yesterday in search of the new issue of Movmnt magazine. Couldn’t find it but found an article in Dance International magazine about a new performance at the National in London, a collaboration between my favorite actress and Akram Khan, an intriguing dancer and choreographer whom I’d seen here last year and who I wrote about here.

Here is critic Judith Mackrell’s review of the evening (she thought Khan brilliant and lauds Binoche for continual self-reinvention but found her dance range too limited to sustain an entire performance, which, as much as I love Binoche as an actor, is unsurprising to me given the difficulty of learning to dance in adulthood). I’d still love to see it though. Here are some photos, and here’s an interview with Binoche. If anyone is in London and sees this, please do let me know.

(photo: Tristram Kenton)


  1. Hey Tonya,

    Do you remember a few years ago when Claire Danes had her dance debut at PS 122, and the dance world – or certain nasty parts of it – was abuzz with advance glee over how badly she would do? Turned out she did a pretty good job, a result of her working like crazy to master the material. But it seems to me this isn’t usually the case with “crossover” efforts like this, whether it’s TV celebs starring in Broadway productions, or something like the collaboration you’re talking about here. I would be interested to learn more about how Binoche prepared herself, what her aims were, how much the show used her dramatic gifts, etc. Perhaps it will come to City Center, mgmt there seems pretty keen on Khan.

    By the same token, it startles me to see how often dancers think they can get away with acting in their works, without putting any real thought into the craft of it as a separate entity from dance, or at least something that requires different skills, understanding, etc. And if I see one more actor who has no understanding of what to do with his/her body while on stage! I wish there were more communication happening between the theater and dance communities – there is so much overlap in the contemporary realm, and they could learn so much from each other. I spent a lot of time at the Prelude 08 theater festival this weekend, and didn’t see any choreographers there, even though the issues being addressed were quite similar to things the contemporary dance world is always talking about. Here’s a post from one panel:


  2. Hi Claudia — I remember when Claire Danes did the performance, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see it. I do remember all the hoopla! I’d like to know more about how Binoche prepared too — she didn’t really talk specifically about that in the interview. I know that she really seems to throw herself into everything she does though. I really hope it comes to CC.

    It’s so true about the intersection of dance and drama — they use so many of the same elements of craft. And I really think some dancers don’t think at all about expression — what thought, emotion, ‘character’ even that they’re trying to express — they make it only about the literal movement. And it’s true some actors don’t know what to do with their bodies onstage — the don’t think at all about what their body is doing, the kind of shape they’re making, what that conveys, how the body can be used to express as well as the face, etc. Interestingly, Binoche is one of those actors who does seem to be body-conscious, just remembering how she held herself in certain, somewhat contorted positions during The English Patient, mainly to show anguish or fear, and how she playfully interacted with Lena Olin in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, running about the room, naked and bashful about her body but still sexually intrigued. She’s really good at using her body to convey emotional states and little idiosyncracies of character.

    I’m sorry to hear the choreographers didn’t show to Prelude, but I don’t know if I’m really surprised. It does seem like the two worlds don’t really collide — or rather specifically that dance people don’t really partake of the theater world. Whether it’s intentional or not the dance world here does seem a little isolationist… I wonder if it’s the same in Europe and elsewhere? This is really interesting!

  3. I think it is a result of New York offering so much of everything – people get blinders on, because they are so pressed to see even most of what is offered in the discipline they gravitate toward the most. And it’s not just the dance world, sadly. If you talk to folks who run multidisciplinary spaces, they will all say that there is virtually no overlap in audiences: put on a theatrical production, you get a theater audience; music, a music audience …

  4. Tonya, wondered if you’d seen this interview http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nJmRaJ7igAA

  5. No, I hadn’t seen it, Elena. Thanks so much for linking to it!

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