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Chinese, British dancers to churn out contemporary dance
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The National Ballet of China has joined forces with Akram Khan Company, one of the world's leading contemporary dance companies, in an unprecedented collaboration to churn out a major contemporary dance -- "bahok", to be premiered in Beijing next January before touring the world.

"This is a unique collaboration for both Akram Khan Company and China's classical ballet flagship company," said Farooq Chaudhry, producer of the British company, at a press conference on Friday.

It's the first time an independent dance company from Britain has collaborated with the National Ballet of China in such unique way, he noted, adding the two companies' different cultural perspectives and dramatically diverse dance styles will ensure bahok is one of the most exciting cultural events of 2008 any wherein the world.

Akram Khan, 33, is regarded as the most acclaimed choreographers working on the international stage today. He is also one of the most outstanding male dancers of his generation, renowned for his inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary collaborations and for challenging conventional ideas of traditional dance forms. In 2007, he was awarded "Excellence in International Dance" by the International Theatre Institute.

The collaboration with the National Ballet of China represents a continuation of Khan's interest in combining different dance traditions to create new and original dance vocabulary.

Bahok, a Bengali word meaning "carrier," includes four dancers from the National Ballet of China and five dancers from Akram Khan Company. It is being choreographed by Khan and this is the first time he will not be appearing in one of his own productions.

Bahok will focus on the dynamics of modern China and avoid cliche notions and symbols. There will also be elements of Chinese folk dancing and Kathak, Indian traditional dance, as well as western/modern and classical dance vocabulary.

After the world premiere at Tianqiao Theatre in Beijing, bahok will tour internationally to Asia, Europe and America. It will also come to Britain in March, as part of Liverpool's Year as European Capital of Culture.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to explore how different cultures express themselves through dance. Working in China has long been an aspiration of mine -- it's one of the most dynamic and exciting countries in the world. It's so far been a fascinating exploration of dance language amongst a range of highly versatile and talented dancers," said Akram Khan.

The new work supported by Arts Council England and the Cultural Leadership Program is also part of China Now -- Britain's largest ever festival of Chinese culture -- which takes place in 2008 to coincide with the Chinese New Year and the Beijing Olympics.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2007)

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