English National Ballet premieres Akram Khan’s ‘Creature’

English National Ballet presents the long-anticipated world premiere of its new ballet, Akram Khan’s Creature.

The ballet, described as “an unearthly tale of exploitation and human frontiers” takes its inspiration from the stage play Woyzeck by 19th century German dramatist Georg Büchner, which provided the libretto for Alban Berg’s 1925 opera Wozzeck.

The action takes place in a dilapidated former research station in the Artic, and tells of the ordeal of the Creature who is the subject of a scientific experiment being carried out by the Doctor, to establish how well he deals mentally and physically with extreme cold, isolation and homesickness. This experiment is seen as necessary to prepare for mankind’s proposed colonisation of the ‘final frontiers’ on earth and beyond. This bleak existence is tempered only by the presence of the Creature’s keeper, Marie, and his friend, Andres.

Artistic Director, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan is regarded as one of the most respected dance artists of today, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including an MBE for services to dance in 2005, the Laurence Olivier Award, the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award), the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the Fred and Adele Astaire Award, the Herald Archangel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and eight Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. He is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London, and Curve, Leicester.

Creature is Khan’s third collaboration with English National Ballet, and follows the success of Dust (performed as part of Lest We Forget in 2014), and Giselle, his first ever full-length ballet. His works – which have been performed both in the UK and abroad – include XENOS, Until the Lions, Kaash, iTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees. “The outcast, the stranger, have been a common theme in my work”, he says. “In Creature, I am looking further into the areas related to the sense of abandonment, rage and loss.”

Included in Khan’s creative team for Creature is Tim Yip, best known for his Academy Award for Best Art Direction for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Composer and sound designer for the ballet is London-based Italian musician and producer Vincenzo Lamagna who also collaborated with Khan on Giselle for ENB. Lighting design is by Michael Hulls who has worked exclusively in dance over the last 20 years and is known as a “choreographer of light”, and dramaturgy is by Ruth Little who has worked with the Akram Khan company since 2010.

English National Ballet presents Akram Khan’s Creature at Sadler’s Wells from 23rd September to 3rd October. The English National Ballet Philharmonic will be conducted by Gavin Sutherland and Gerry Cornelius. Further information and booking details can be found on the ENB website. [www.ballet.org.uk

The postponed international premiere of Creature will take place at Chicago’s Joan W and Irving B Harris Theater from 24-26 February 2022.

Information sourced from:

English National Ballet programme notes

Georg Büchner – Encyclopaedia Britannica

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