In the programme notes for Confluence, the now famed collaborators Akram Khan and Nitin Sawhney describe artistic collaboration as ‘a search for an indefinable spark’. This ‘spark’ has been illuminating the Sadler’s Wells stage for many years now, Khan and Sawhney having discovered a truly unique and inspiring partnership through a series of productions.
While basically a retrospective of the duo’s work together, Confluence becomes much more than this through their clever selection of material, which creates a moving and stirring piece of work to probe its audience rather than dishing out the greatest hits. Utilising Antony Gormley’s white gauze box setting from Zero Degrees, the pair open with a synchronised monologue from that same show, in which the smallest of hand gestures becomes an intricate choreography that will always mesmerise and charm. The use of text has been a revelation in their work and here, both performers deliver poignant and earth-shattering stories with a delicacy rarely seen by the greatest of actors.
Joined on stage by four of Khan’s ever-engaging dancers and a band of musicians (22-year-old Nicki Wells’ vocals are spine-tingling), it is an evening of joy and sorrow, humour and heartache. Fabiana Piccioli’s lighting is crisp and surprising and Nick Hillel’s visual projections are surely the most sophisticated and sensitive on stage. Confluence is 75 minutes of thrilling choreography, design and music in which the pair look back thoughtfully on their artistic investigations into identity, borders and displacement, leaving us waiting in anticipation for their future collaborations.