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Akram Khan Company: XENOS

Thu, February 21st, 2019
8:00 pm

The ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance’s CenterSeries is excited to present, in collaboration with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Akram Khan, one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. Akram draws on the archives of the 20th century, and gives voice to the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the First World War. Performed to live music, XENOS reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition in its portrait of an Indian dancer whose skilled body becomes an instrument of war. Akram’s movement language shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance. XENOS takes place on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology, where humanity still stands in wonder and disarray. There will be a post-performance Q&A, hosted by Munjulika Tarah, Assistant Professor of Dance.

The title XENOS means ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’.

Over 4 million non-white men were mobilized by the European and American armies during the conflict. Around 1.5 million of them were from India, mostly peasant-warriors from North and North-Western India, who fought and died in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In service to the myths of Empire, dislocated from their homelands and cultures, their stories have until recently remained in shadow. As Akram himself writes: “I will investigate specific questions that confront me more and more every day, like a shadow constantly following me, haunting me, whispering to me… Do we need to tell other people’s stories in case they vanish? Who are the ‘other’ people? Are stories of human journeys told, retold, and told again, so we can eventually learn from our mistakes? Who are ‘we’, a collective or many individuals? What makes us human? Are we still human?”

Akram has brought together a stellar creative team. Along with dramaturg Ruth Little and acclaimed Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, he teams up with German designer Mirella Weingarten, award-winning lighting designer Michael Hulls, costume designer Kimie Nakano, and composer Vincenzo Lamagna.

Akram is joined onstage by five international musicians: percussionist B C Manjunath, vocalist Aditya Prakash, bass player Nina Harries, violinist Clarice Rarity, and saxophonist Tamar Osborn.

XENOS was commissioned with support from 14-18 NOW & COLAS.

Akram Khan: In just over 18 years he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the arts in the UK and abroad. His reputation has been built on the success of imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as Until the Lions, Kaash, iTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.

An instinctive and natural collaborator, Khan has been a magnet to world-class artists from other cultures and disciplines. His previous collaborators include the National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost.

Khan’s work is recognized as being profoundly moving, in which his intelligently crafted storytelling is effortlessly intimate and epic. Described by the Financial Times as an artist “who speaks tremendously of tremendous things”, a highlight of his career was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony that was received with unanimous acclaim.

As a choreographer, Khan has developed a close collaboration with English National Ballet and its Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. He created the short piece Dust, part of the Lest We Forget program, which led to an invitation to create his own critically

“Five musicians shimmer like golden holograms behind an upstage scrim contributing Vincenzo Lamagna’s extraordinary soundscape.” – Financial Times

Akram Khan Company: In July 1999 in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, an animated and curiosity-filled conversation took place between the young gifted dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and an ambitious former dancer and just recently graduated arts manager Farooq Chaudhry. That conversation laid the foundation stone for a dynamic collaboration, culminating in the creation of Akram Khan Company one year later.

Inspired by Akram Khan’s early training in the Indian classical dance form kathak, and the hybrid language that organically emerged when Akram’s kathak training encountered contemporary dance in his teens, a vision began to form, fuelled by a desire to learn and create through collaboration with the very best people across all the disciplines in the arts.

The rules were simple: take risks, think big and daring, explore the unfamiliar, avoid compromise and tell stories through dance that are compelling and relevant, with artistic integrity.

In just over 18 years Akram Khan Company is now undisputedly one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world. The programmes range from kathak and modern solos to artist-to-artist collaborations and ensemble productions. The Company has a major international presence and enjoys busy tours that reach out to many cultures and peoples across the globe. Akram Khan has been the recipient of numerous international dance awards, the most notable being an Olivier Award for his solo production DESH in 2012.

A milestone in the Company’s journey was the creation of a section of the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2012.

Akram Khan Company enjoys artistic association with Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, Curve in Leicester, and other leading venues and festivals around the world.

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