Recombobulation by Heather DeAtley

Feb 26, 2010

Travel affords us infinite opportunities to discombobulate and recombobulate, deconstructing and reconstructing personal and collective boundaries constantly. Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport acknowledges this truth with refreshing levity in their designated "Recombobulation Area."  These containers of transition and constant flux often invite new sensations, while redefining what it means to be/go home. Whether train or bus station, elevator, or airport, these seminal spaces of the in between--where you're not quite here nor there and always arriving or seeking to arrive, serve as the backdrop for Akram Khan's bahok.

We step into the process of getting from here-to-there, but what happens in the interval? Do we become closed systems or open ourselves to the richness of new interactions? Earlier this week, I spent nearly 13 hours in the Ataturk Istanbul Airport and would have gladly welcomed a non-conventional source of engagement as demonstrated by this "artistic exercise" in the Antwerp Central Station. It begs the question of: What do we resign ourselves to while traveling--banality or magic?

In the spirit of Alain de Botton's Airport Experiment, in which this writer took up residence at Heathrow Airport for a week and captured the ruminations and insights in his book, "A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary," Choreographer Akram Khan serves as a self-appointed choreographer-in-residence to an airport or train station that could be anywhere in the world. He merges distinctive contemporary elements and Kathak (a North Indian style of classical dance centered on storytelling) informed movements seamlessly to punctuate an otherwise ordinary setting. As modeled by Khan, airports and train stations might just be inspired to enlist Choreographers-in-Residence as an act of revolution in changing how we travel...



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