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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  January 16, 2017 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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the latest headlines from bbc news. i'm ben bland the us president—elect, donald trump, has outlined his foreign policy priorities in an interview with a british and a german newspaper. he says he wants fairer trade deals for the us to address its trade deficit. and he said he'd like russia and the us to agree to a substantial reduction of nuclear arms. however, the outgoing director of the cia has warned that mr trump doesn't fully understand russia's actions, intentions and capabilities. john brennan said that when in office mr trump should be very careful about lifting sanctions against moscow, unless it changed its behaviour. horrific details have emerged from brazil, of the violence in the alcacuz prison in the city of natal. riot police have regained control of the compound. authorities say at least 26 prisoners were killed by fellow inmates from a rival criminalfaction — many had been decapitated. now on bbc news, hardtalk welcome to hardtalk i am stephen sackur, in every culture
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on earth dances is a physical, joyfulform of expression and communication. it is, in a way the world's most basic common language. well, my guest today epitomises the ability of dance to cross borders of time and space. akram khan is british by birth, bangladeshi by family heritage and now globally renowned as one of the great contemporary dancers and choreographers. his performances weave together influences from east and west, past and present, how would he define his dance? akram khan, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you, welcome. it seems to me so many of the great professional dancers have been raised in one very strict discipline, one cultural tradition, but that isn't quite true of you, is it? no. i was born and brought up in london, so already i was exposed to many, many different cultural activities from very, very different backgrounds. but, my mother wanted me to learn something from her roots and not just language because language was very crucial to her, because of the independence of bangladesh, the movement originally started for the war to fight between east pakistan and... so, the bengali identity, bangladeshi identity was hugely important. did you learn bengali? i did, because she refused
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to speak to me in english. she knew i would learn english in school because i was born and brought up here. she wanted me to be in touch with her language, her culture, but also something that was classical. that was close to her culture and classical indian dancing was the right thing, so that's what she forced me into, or pushed me into. this would be the kathak tradition? it is kathak, exactly, north indian classical dancing. so, as a kid, you were living in south london, your dad running a restaurant, but were you told that you would be going to dance lessons, the kathak traditional dance lessons. yes, it was more of a bribe, if i went i would get something at the end of it because i was a kind of, of course, when you are exposed to so many different things, i was heavily into michaeljackson. .. how did your mother feel about that? she was alright, she was ok. is it true that you won a prize at school for the best version of thriller, the michael jackson routine? yes, it was two things
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it was michaeljackson, i did a routine, and it was 5—star which is a group in that period that i used to love and they used to be inspired by michaeljackson, so i won something about. so i guess even, i don't know if we're talking what, ten, 11, 12 years old, you were becoming a sort of fusion in a way of different influences and i wonder whether that when as you progressed through adolescence and you became very keen on different forms of dancing whether there was a tension in you about which direction to go, to follow? i think the tension, yes there was, but the tension comes from my community and social constructs of my parents‘ community, because academics was really important for them, because they were recently independent as a country, they felt education was the way forward and dance was a hobby, so up to this day, i mean, my community is great and wonderful and supportive, but i do get the occasional, "what do
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you do as a realjob?" laughter and that's ok. .. and did religion... obviously, your parents were from a muslim tradition. yes. was that in any way relevant, was there any religious impulse to go in one particular tradition or direction rather than to embrace michaeljackson, for example? no, my mother was extremely open, she is a very open, she studied literature, bengali literature, but she also studied mythology from greek mythology, hindu mythology, she was fascinated by stories, narratives, and she kind of coached me into it and guided me into it from a young age. many people from around the world will probably be familiar with the billy elliot story of the kid northern, industrial town, a mining sort of town who is a brilliant natural dancer and then has to struggle with himself and his family and his community about getting into the right sort of dance school. yes. to explore his passion. that isn't quite what
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you're telling me. it wasn't that, sort of, having to escape. no, first of all i don't, i wantto be very honest, i was not naturally, i'm not naturally talented. what i am is, i have one talent and that is i, when i get obsessed with something i commit to it in a very extreme way, i can go into my parent's garage, which i did at the age of i think, just after gcses, i was lost for a while and i went into my parent's garage and they thought i was at college. so, for a year i was hiding out in my dad's garage. doing what? training in indian classical dance and that is my talent, i did ten hours a day. wow, entirely in secret, private just for yourself? yes, that was my form of escape. ijust wanted to get really good at it, ijust became obsessed by it,
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i was fascinated by kathak, north indian classical dance. and yet, if we fast forward a little bit to get to where your career begins to take off you actually entered a very different environment you went to one of the uk's top contemporary dance schools and then you started to get work which was beginning to make your name, not in the strict kathak tradition but by actually finding a dance language which combined some eastern traditional expression with a lot of very, very contemporary, edgy, current western dance. yeah, yeah. i call it confusion. people like to call, used to call the work fusion, but i preferred to call it confusion, because really my body was very confused at the time and i think out of that confusion you start to search for your voice. your identity, in a way, which you're exploring, actually through dance. yes.
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but, it could have been writing, or music or whatever, but you you were very much autobiographical in a way. a lot of my work is autobiographical. i like to touch, there is a lot of questions i would like to explore. that went through my childhood. as i said, michaeljackson wasn't the only person, i loved charlie chaplin, i loved fred astaire, buster keaton, muhammad ali, bruce lee, all these people were my super heroes. you brought ali with you. i thought hardtalk, who's harder than bruce. it's a great cue, actually because we want to show everybody a little bit of your dance, some of the stuff you have done. perhaps your most autobiographical work was kaash, which took you, in a way, back to bangladesh. let's just enjoy 30 seconds or so of this. for me, it's fascinating on so many levels, here you are, the movement i love it so expressive, but also there's a longing in it and a relationship between you and bangladesh, as represented by the nature, there.
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i'm trying to figure out whether it's actually, in a sense, sad or whether it's a very positive thing. i think it's both. the story is about my father. in a way, i started the show with hammering this kind of grave. so, when i told my father that, look, the show is kind of about you and me and he was excited. i said hold on, i have to tell you something you're dead at the beginning of the show and he said, "you've killed me off already and not even dead in real life." so he was taken aback by that, but it's very much about my, about how my father or how fathers from a different culture, when they're in another environment, they start to question what they want their children, which direction they want them to be... he kept on saying to me when i was a teenager,
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i was imitating a lot of michaeljackson, bruce lee, all these people who were my super heroes, and he said, i want you to be more bangladeshi. i still to this day don't know what that means. it was really something in his own mind that he believed in. partly you are exploring your relationship to him, but in terms of your own relationship with the culture you grew up in in london and then in the dance world in the west, but also very regularly visiting bangladesh. did you mean, and do you feel like an outsider, actually, in both cultures and countries? yes, i do. i neverfelt an outsider in britain as much as when brexit happened. in bangladesh i always felt like an outsider. ifeel more british when i'm in bangladesh and ifeel more bangladeshi when i'm in britain, so for me it's about no borders,
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really, a home is where for me, where family is and where they feel most safe. i'm interested that you say you never felt more of an outsider in the uk than you do today, because just from reading things that you said in the past there were difficult experiences when you were a kid. your father's restaurant sometimes was visited by pretty obnoxious, racist people. yes, we went through a really bad period. and i think many people from the bangladeshi community and others would say, actually there is less overt racism today then there was back then, 30, a0 years ago. i wonder why you feel more of an outsider now? it's changing, no? with brexit i think things are changing. i think that racism has an open door now, somehow, a bigger voice, the sense of creating walls with other cultures, xenophobia, fear of the other, fear of the foreigner, from me a lot
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of my work explores that. you weave that into the stuff you are doing. because that's my reality, i explore things that happen to me or that are surrounding me. coming back to the point about mash up and fusion, and want to bring in another clip because it seems so relevant to what you are saying right now. you took a classical ballet, giselle out, you worked with the english national ballet and gave it a contemporary twist. when you talk about walls and talk about immigrants coming you reimagined a love story taking place with giselle who is active garment worker, a very poor girl and let's just look at the imagery that comes from your giselle. again, stunning images, very different from the clip
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that we saw earlier. what was it like working with the english national ballet and with tamara rojo who is one of the great contemporary dancers? it was extraordinary, i mean, you know, particularly working with the english national ballet, i have not worked with other ballet companies, and english national ballet, i was always apprehensive of working with a ballet company... were they open to you? yes. to what you were bringing which is probably very different to everything they have worked with before. that is why i was apprehensive about if they would be open. they were extraordinarly gernerous and really daring, they really support of the entire process and kudos to the tamara and her team, they are extraordinary. classical repertoire has a heritage. it has a lot of weight, so i could feel the weight. and giselle is a very
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loved piece, and it's an extraordinary piece of work. so, to take it and then have the audacity to... you didn't dance in that, did you? no, no, i wish i could do ballet. i was going to say, you said very modestly at the beginning of the interview the secret was you weren't very talented i don't think anybody watching that would believe that, but could you have been? could you imagine now, you're so experienced in the world of dance, if you had gone in a different direction, could you have been a classical ballet dancer? policy i don't think so, i used to love nureyev and baryshnikov, they were also one of my heroes, both of them were extraordinary ballet dancers and i always dreamed of being like them. what do you think you don't have? personally, i don't have the body for it, i don't have the flexibility, but it depends because maybe as a child perhaps if i had started early enough, but, you know nureyev started much later, but still, i mean, he'sjust exquisite, but...
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so, you use your body in a very different way. absolutely. i'm interested in that, i'd like you to determine a little bit about how, the mechanics of how you tell stories with your body. what are the great gifts that you need, what kind of flexibility and what kind of expression can get out of your body? for me, the flexibility idea with is an illusion, i work with illusion of flexibility. i don't truly have an immense range at all, physically, but i'm fast, that is one thing i've always been, because of my training in kathak because you have to wear these very heavy belts around your ankles and you train for hours and it is like having weights around your ankles. the moment you take them off you're like speedy gonzales. you are super fast. so, i think, also fear, fear of revealing i'm not flexible, so i'd rather do things very fast.
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so, things will become a blur, so you would be like, is he flexible? i didn't quite catch that... and, so in a way my stylistic development came out of the necessity of hiding what i was not good at. well, when you tell me about the things you took from your kathak tradition, it also reminds me that on this journey of yours through different dance traditions and fusing things together you have, in recent years, gone quite regularly to india and i guess to bangladesh, as well to put on some shows and i know, that there has been a resistance to you. people felt you had betrayed the tradition, but that seems to have changed, because now you get huge acclaim and audiences in india. they now more open minded, do you think? i think, always the traditionalists will be a little bit negative or a bit difficult, with absorbing what i do or accepting what i do. but, it has changed
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and got a lot better. i have to say the younger generation are amazing, they have really embraced it. in india it's so exciting, i love performing in india and bangladesh, too. dance strikes me as, i guess i said it in the introduction, it's such a sort of elemental art form, because in the end you are communicating through your body and i can see that one of the implications of that is that as you age, and as your body becomes perhaps, you know, less powerful, less potent, it affects your ability to tell stories and express in the way that you want to. i would say, technically yes, i think, you know, it depends if you look at it from a western perspective or an eastern, asian perspective. explain. it depends also on the dance form.
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in kathak the real masters are when they are at their peak from a0 onwards. everything else before that is preparation. training. yes. i think in western classical dance form it is much earlier because, it's notjust about having strength it's about knowing how to use that strength in a poetic way and a deeper way. for me, the older i become the less, of course i have to abandon the reality that my body cannot do some of the things that i would love to do when i was 30, but then i find other things and i find other ways to express that same movement. get it across in a different way. you do less dancing now and probably more... i do more training. training and...
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i do more training now. you mean for yourself? physical training? yes, i have to. right, so you have to actually train more. even more than i did before. the reason why i think it is important, when discussing dance, to get into the physicality of it, is because it is so important and you'd said, and they think there were three of you, leading to in contemporary dance in the uk he wrote a letter not long ago, an open letter, saying that the, as far as you were concerned the new generation of young, contemporary dancers in the uk were not disciplined enough, not hungry enough, not training hard enough to be the very best and that a lot of the best young dancers you could see and that you want to work within your own company were actually coming from overseas. we were talking more specifically about the training, perhaps selfishly geared toward our compa ny‘s work, so i always needed very strong, technical dancers, and ifelt that at that time, the dancers that i was singing coming out of the colleges were not geared towards the kind of dancers i was looking for and perhaps the same
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for the other two choreographers. it's not a basic hunger thing, you're not saying that young people today are... with so many different forms of entertainment and art and culture around them are not dedicating themselves to dance in the way that you have do to be the very top. i think in any form if you really want to have a profound impact on it you have do become obsessed by it and i do believe, deep down, that whatever technique it is, it has two inprison you, you have to learn it so much, you have to learn about it so much, you have to do it so much that eventually that imprisonment, you find freedom out of that imprisonment, you find freedom out of that form that you have been trying to perfect. but, it means you go
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through an awful lot of pain on the way. yes, pain of course, but everything is pain, anything is hard work, if you want to be good at anything you have to work hard, you have to sacrifice stuff and you if you feel it is a sacrifice then it is already a problem. if you consider you, to be where you are, you had to put in many, many hours of work, you have to do do it, you have to go through it. what now, then, for you, because you do an awful lot around the world. i'm just going to make other people go through it now. laughter i'm done doing it. going through the pain. you mean, you're seriously contemplating quitting being in active dancer altogether? i think and slowly winding down, yes, for sure, i don't tour so heavily. maybe a few more years and then i may do a small role, because i love to dance anyway. but, i love to dance for my children, you know, i love to dance in the living room, i love, these days, the training part is the bit that
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i don't like any more, used to love it before but it hurt so much. right. it's like running, when you were born at 20, it's different to anyone at 30, go for a jog, the spring changes the way you run changes, and when you run at a0 it's different from the way you run at a0, you feel it, and so, ifeel a huge different is what i felt at 20 and 30, so i enjoy the performance part of it but not the training part of it and i think that... i just wonder whether you're going to be happy when you have quit dancing professionally, because you've said, sometimes you feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff, politics, administration that comes with running a company and doing all of the stuff that means that you can get your shows around the world, but not actually involving you dancing on the stage. if that becomes your life, will you find that deeply frustrating? i think i will, but i will still keep dancing in the privacy of my own space, i think.
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i love to explore the ideas that i cannot do in my own body in other people's bodies. like working with english national ballet, their extraordinary ability facility that they have, pushes the language further and, they come already with a very solid training of ballet so this kind of connection between what i do and at the ballet body, was fascinating for me. i was fascinated by the point shoes. and what women can do one point, it's just extraordinary, i've seen it before, but until you work with them directly you truly, really, you really respect it because it's an extraordinary technique. what it did was transform the material that i usually create and my body to my dancers. to end, any thoughts on the next big sort of theme that you might take an? you've talked a lot about immigration and though walls
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that people build between cultures, what's the big theme that you might tackle next? definitely the body, but i'm interested in the mythological body, and the technological future body. robots, artificial intelligence. absolutely, yes. i look forward to seeing it. thank you. akram khan, it's been a pleasure to have you on hardtalk, thank you very much, indeed. thank you very much. hello there, good morning. we've got a weather front draped across the united kingdom to start the day today. from the north—east of scotland all the way down to the south—west of england.
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either side of that we've got largely dry conditions and quite a range in those temperatures. it's relatively mild across the western side of the uk but towards the far south and east, we could see a touch of frost towards norwich, hovering around about one or so degrees above freezing. so quite chilly here. but further west, it's very mild indeed. nine or 10 degrees, pretty good to start the day in the middle ofjanuary. now, through the morning, mist and fog can be a bit of a problem in some parts of east anglia and the south—east but nothing too untoward. and it is quite chilly here. had further west and we thicken up the cloud and we're into some rain for the midlands, central, southern parts of england. and further west still and it should be largely dry in cornwall if fairly cloudy, but mild. a similar story across the western side of wales. a lot of cloud, some of that's quite low and it is dry and mild as well. into northern ireland and again, a lot of dry weather to be had through the morning. it is rather cloudy, nine or 10 degrees, but not so bad to start the day and the western side of scotland also seeing a lot of cloud.
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not much rain to speak of, though. there is some to be had, though, across the eastern side just towards the far north—east. as we head back down into northern england, a lot of cloud here, low cloud, fog on the hills and some rain to be had. butjust to the east of that rain in the hull area it could well be on the chilly side, three or four degrees to start the day. a band of rain doesn't really move too far too quickly. it tends to become lighter and more patchy as we get on into the afternoon. as another area of rain creeping its way into the western side of scotland. there will be a range of temperatures through the afternoon. still quite chilly for east anglia and the south—east, only five or six degrees here. but many western areas seeing those temperatures getting up into double figures, 10 degrees all the way from stornaway down towards plymouth. then through the evening, some rain moving its way across western scotland in particular. notice how the rain across the midlands tends to fizzle out. chilly overnight into tuesday morning and the far south—east, but that's where we'll see the best of the sunshine on tuesday. elsewhere, fairly cloudy, patchy rain for northern england
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and some parts of the midlands as well. again that range in temperatures from quite chilly, four, five, six degrees in the south—east to a relatively mild ten or ii in the north and west. as we go through tuesday evening, still a bit of patchy rain for some central parts of the uk, but it won't amount to too much. a bit of rain too across the north—west of the uk as we get on into wednesday. but a lot of dry, fairly cloudy weather. lowest temperatures on wednesday again will be across the south—eastern corner. it's eights and nines elsewhere. it looks pretty quiet really into thursday. a lot of cloud to be had again but not that much rain, just a few pockets of light rain and drizzle. hello, you are watching bbc world news. i'm adnan nawaz. our top story this hour: the president—elect speaks out in a wide—ranging interview. donald trump talks about smart trade, not free trade, how brexit could be a great thing, the migrant crisis, and a possible us nuclear deal with russia. welcome to the programme.
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our other main stories this hour: horrific details have emerged of the violence in brazil's alcacuz prison. 26 prisoners were killed by fellow inmates. many had been decapitated. from a cage in south korea to a home in the west, how rescuers are trying to stop dogs being farmed for meat. i'm sally bundock. in business: sterling is sinking against the us dollar,
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