© 2013 Womad Ltd
Company Reg. No. 2734599
Place of registration : England
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Azanin Ahmad is the artistic director and choreographer of Susana, Malaysias leading traditional dance company. Shes also a woman with a mission to preserve her countrys artistic heritage, particularly the Mak Yong (courtly dance), which dates back to the fifteenth century. This is a richly expressive style, performed in striking costumes, and its survival, and revival, in the modern age is due in no little part to Azanin Ahmads work. She has had extraordinary success, both at home and abroad, with her marriage of traditional styles and modern stagecraft.After studying economics at university at the beginning of the Seventies, Azanin became more and more involved in dance, and finally presented her first dance drama Dayang Sari in 1978. This included elements of a number of classical Malaysian styles Mak Yong, Gamelan, Terinai and Asyik with traditional musical accompaniment. It proved to be a landmark in Malaysian culture, and proved that there was a huge audience for this kind of dance drama. Azanins work is often aired live on national television, and one of her productions Putri Sadong, won national fame when a journalist covering a by-election wondered why there was hardly anyone at the count they were all watching Azanin on TV. In 1981, she took her second show, Jentayu, to West Berlin, and since then she has performed in Australia and the US.Her Rivermead performance will be a revised version of Keris, her 1992 production, rechoreographed for two dancers. The title is the name of a kind of sacred ceremonial dagger, and the dance tells the story of the struggle for possession of one particular keris, the Taming Sari (which in Malaysian legend is a name as talismanic as Excalibur is in Britain). The main dance style used in Keris is the silat which (like Brazilian capoeira) is based on the movements in a martial art.