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Akram Khan Dance Company

Akram Khan, the hot resident choreographer of London’s Royal Festival Hall, brings his dance company to Jacob’s Pillow this weekend to perform the American premiere of Kaash.

In Kaash (Hindi for “if”), Khan’s sleek, modern choreography shows traces of his training in classical Indian dance. Khan says Kaash was inspired by “Hindu Gods, black holes, Indian time cycles, tablas, creation and destruction.”

Already, the work has gotten raves in the U.K. press: The London Sunday Times’ Dave Dougill wrote that “[Khan] and his four fellow dancers scythe and slice, spin and whirl through this force field with breathtaking momentum.”

Like Khan’s choreography, Nitin Sawhney’s original score combines traditional and contemporary elements by blending instruments from world music and electronica. Sawhney has written both classical music and songs for pop musicians like Paul McCartney. Internationally acclaimed painter and installation artist Anish Kapoor provides the stage design’s hanging background of luminous color-field squares.

Akram Khan Dance Company will perform Kaash at Jacob’s Pillow today (Thursday, Aug. 14) through Sunday (Aug. 17) in the Doris Duke Studio Theater (358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.). Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8:15 PM, with matinee performances on Saturday at 2:15 PM and Sunday at 5 PM. Tickets are $20. For more information or tickets, call (413) 243-0745 or visit www.jacobspillow.org.

Alejandro Escovedo Benefit

Benefit shows with impressive lineups are always something of a mixed blessing: The shows for good causes often bring together performers whom you’d not likely see all on one stage in one evening, and that’s a big score for the music fan; but, of course, as a benefit, there’s very likely a sad story behind the whole affair. That is certainly the case with Tired Skin: An Alejandro Escovedo Benefit, which will be staged at Valentine’s on Saturday.

Escovedo is a legendary—if cultishly so—figure in American music. As a member of the band Rank and File back in the early ’80s, he was a pioneer of the form that would later become known as No Depression. The magazine of the same name, which still serves as the bible of the genre, named Escovedo its performer of the decade in the ’90s, a testament to the man’s ongoing relevance as an artist, both in later bands and as a solo act. If you substitute for Lou Reed’s urban, claustrophobic misanthropy a kind of heartbreaking existential crisis under a big sky, you’ve got Escovedo.

Unfortunately, the kinship with Reed isn’t just metaphoric, and like many artists of the pre-AIDS era, Escovedo led a life on the road that was less cautious than was prudent. The recklessness of Escovedo’s younger years caught up with him, however, and he was recently diagnosed with Hepatitis C. On April 26, after a show in Phoenix, Escovedo collapsed and was hospitalized due to complications related to his illness. Like many other artists and musicians, Escovedo has no health insurance.

To help raise money to defray the expenses of the treatment Escovedo must undergo, local musician Mike Eck (who got to know Escovedo while working with him in a record store in Austin, Texas) has organized this benefit, one of several being staged around the country. Other area fans have eagerly agreed to lend their talents, including Hamell on Trial (who also became friendly with Escovedo during a stint in Austin), Greg Haymes, Hayseed and Stephen Clair.

The Alejandro Escovedo Benefit will take place at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) on Saturday (Aug. 16). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $10, all proceeds go directly to Escovedo through his management. For more information about the show, 432-6572. To make an additional contribution, www.alejandrofund.com.

Managing Eden and Solo: Lisa Klapstock/Threshold

The Center for Photography at Woodstock is opening two photo exhibits this week. Managing Eden, curated by Kate Menconeri and Ariel Shanbag, is a statement about the delicate balance of the Earth and our environment, and about how we need to address environmental issues and recognize that there will be consequences if we don’t. This group show looks at a variety of environmental concerns—everything from genetically altered foods and pollution to animal habitat management and natural disasters—and according to the curators, provides viewers with an opportunity to consider their own involvement with their environment. For example, Joann Brennan, one of the featured artists, uses her images to examine issues like the debate of intervention versus wildness (for example, leaving the environment to its own natural reaction to human presence or using human involvement to try and preserve it).

Threshold, a solo exhibition by Lisa Klapstock, is a collection of work that uses knotholes in backyard fences to frame small circles of the life beyond one’s own backyard. Her colorful photos reflect the boundaries between private and public space, and twist subjects of urbanity into art.

Both Managing Eden and Threshold will open at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (59 Tinker St., Woodstock) on Saturday (Aug. 16) and will run through Oct. 12. There will be an artists’ reception on Saturday from 5 to 7 PM, and an artist’s talk with Lisa Klapstock at 5:30 PM. For more information, call (845) 679-9957 or visit the center’s Web site at www.cpw.org.


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