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Journey to the Center of Yourself

Khan and Binoche take us Inside I


From the moment Juliette Binoche first broke into our consciousness as the beautiful, fragile photographer in the Unbearable Lightness of Being, her work has been about taking risks. Yet her decision two years ago to become a dancer – at the age of 44 – may have appeared foolhardy, even for her.

The person Binoche chose to teach her was Akram Khan, one of the most celebrated choreographers of his generation. Famous for blending India’s classical dance style of Khatak with Western themes and methods, Khan worked with Binoche to find the dancer within herself, while creating choreography that would express them both. Their project, In-I, premiered in London in September 2008 and this month their world tour makes a stop in Beijing.

With a stage design by acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor and a soundtrack by Philip Sheppard, In-I breaks down the boundaries between dance and theatre as it explores the desire, frustration, embarrassment, anger and sweet romance that can attend the birth of a relationship. Speaking to the Beijinger on the phone from Sydney, Khan described the progress of their extraordinary collaboration.

I am a dancer/choreographer, she is an actress. We have completely different processes. We knew it but we did not really understand the depth of how different our knowledge or experience is … If I was leading, she did not understand. If she was leading, I did not understand.

We fought a lot! Because we knew something was bigger than us. That is the work. That is process.

The actual full name [of the work] is Inside I. It is about the individual looking into themselves for solutions. This piece is very much about relationships, and how love and relationships evolve and transform over time.

We made the piece together. There is a moment where I hang her on the wall. It is already a very tricky situation, where she could fall any time. And it is very fragile. We hang her on the wall and she speaks from there. She dealt more with text and I dealt with movements. That’s how it happens.

For me, dialogue is just another way to tell the story. I can do it through dialogue, music, and movements and through my body, my dancing. For me, it is inseparable. It is a very Indian concept. They are all one. When you do text, do dialogue, there is music to it.

Because of the subject matter, we did feel some romance. But importantly we respected each other more than the romance. I am married, she has children. We are very different people. We love each other in a different way. It was not easy to solve … but we managed to get through it.


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