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Until the Lions by Jean-Louis Fernandez


Akram Khan Company, one of the most innovative and internationally respected contemporary dance companies, will celebrate its 20th anniversary on 4 October 2020. The company, formed in 2000 by Akram Khan and Farooq Chaudry, has become renowned for its imaginative, highly accessible and profoundly moving productions where the storytelling is at once epic and intimate. Khan has become recognised around the world as one of the most important choreographers working today.


To mark the anniversary the company will present a live streamed programme of work celebrating its 20-year history. The Silent Burn Project will combine storytelling with personal experiences from the multiple voices and talents who have contributed to the company’s work over the last two decades. All the content, including dance and music short films, panel discussions, touring memories and documentaries, has been produced and created exclusively for the milestone. Launching worldwide at midday (BST) on Sunday 4 October, the stream will be accessible for free around the world on the company website, YouTube channel and Facebook Live.


With The Silent Burn Project, the Company invites the audience to embark on a journey of dance and music with international artists around the world. The programme will feature short films with Akram Khan Company dancers Yen-Ching Lin, Ching-Ying Chien, Theo TJ Lowe, Kristina Alleyne, Sadé Alleyne, Kennedy Junior Mutanga, and Akram Khan himself, as well as musicians Sohini Alam, Nina Harries, B C Manjunath, David Azurza, Chitra Poornima Sathish.

The event will also include Symphony of Fingerprints, a documentary series in three episodes that highlights unseen and rare moments of creative process from various productions, with stories told by Khan’s close collaborators, dramaturg Ruth Little, composer Vincenzo Lamagna, creative associate Mavin Khoo, dancer Joy Alpuerto Ritter.


This programme is finally an opportunity to explore questions fundamental to the Company’s values, and to create a space of dialogue with artists and thinkers as part of two panel discussions. The first will focus on Otherness, with special contributions from American ballerina Misty Copeland, British poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Indian cultural critic Rustom Bharucha, South East Asian cultural activist Eddin Khoo and British lecturer in theatre Royona Mitra. A second conversation will examine perspectives on God, gathering the compelling views of British anthropologist Jerome Lewis, Indian dance researcher Jayachandran Surendran, and Indonesian writer and activist Ayu Utami.



bahok by Liu Yang 


The company has also released The Fury of Beautiful Things, a photo book looking back at their last two decades in dance. The monograph is the first devoted to Akram Khan Company and is made up of outstanding photographs of the twenty-six works Khan created since his company was founded, alongside personal essays written by Khan and Farooq Chaudhry. 


In 1999, inspired by Khan’s early training in the South Asian classical dance form Kathak, and the hybrid language that organically emerged when his training encountered contemporary dance in his teens, a vision for a new company began to form, fuelled by a desire to learn and create through collaboration with the best people across all disciplines in the arts. The rules were to be simple: take risks, think big, explore the unfamiliar, avoid compromise and tell stories through dance that are compelling and relevant, with artistic integrity.


Since then, Khan has created an influential body of work including XENOS, Until the Lions, Kaash, iTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees. His work for the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was met with unanimous praise and his solo production of DESH in 2012 was Olivier Award-winning. He has also been honoured with the Outstanding Achievement in Dance award at the 2019 Lawrence Olivier Awards for his last solo piece XENOS.  In 2005 Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance.


The company has collaborated with a range of world-class artists including Juliette Binoche, Sylvie Guillem, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, Kylie Minogue, Florence and the Machine, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Tim Yip, Hanif Kureishi, Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost.


This autumn Akram Khan will also be featured in a new portrait documentary produced by Netflix. Released as part of MOVE, a series on contemporary dance directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, it will air worldwide on 23 October.


Akram Khan, Artistic Director and co-founder of Akram Khan Company said: We are in the midst of a seismic change and so I feel, this may be an opportunity for all of us to collectively unearth our past. A past that we may have buried away in the earth and in our bodies, always silently hoping that it would remain in the past. So much of this past was and still is, rooted in the ideas and actions of separation, neglect, hope, fear and denial. And it has slowly and inevitably melted into the themes and narratives within the work that I have created over the last twenty years at AKC.


But to look back, requires courage. And in my journey as an artist, I must continue to shout loudly: I was never alone in unearthing these challenging stories.


And so here we are, at a moment in time where we are forced to stop travelling, to stop moving, to just stop. But stop to me, doesn’t mean stop. I like to believe it just means pause.

Hence, after these twenty years of unearthing, discovering, and retelling through new lenses, this is a moment for me to reflect and to look back at the footsteps that we at AKC have taken collectively. It has enabled me to appreciate all the footsteps that have been following us, and at times leading us but most often, walking with us, so we never had to feel alone on this ever-lonesome journey of an artist, whose voice, body and skin always belonged to the earth and not to the sky.”


Farooq Chaudhry, Producer and co-founder of Akram Khan Company said: “How do I sum up the meaning of last twenty years? I can’t but our digital anniversary celebration The Silent Burn Project will do it for me. It’s a joyful reflection on our past, a moment to be still in the present and an unflinching gaze into the future. All in the uncertainty of a pandemic that has left us bereft of our dearest and closest friend - the physical space.


The Akram Khan Company story has been a journey of at least one thousand talents to whom I am profoundly grateful. When we’ve been at our very best our art has invited audiences to lose and find themselves exactly at the same time. Throughout, we’ve sought to learn and grow from every creative act and person we’ve engaged with and that gives me an immense sense of pride and what I personally consider our greatest achievement.”




ma by Giannina Urmeneta Ottiker




Sunday 4 October, 12:00 BST

Website: https://www.akramkhancompany.net/productions/the-silent-burn-project/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN9NncWpF2XV7GKWowQrswQ 

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/AkramKhanCompany


The Fury of Beautiful Things
by Akram Khan Company 

About 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.


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 extensive 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 and his last solo piece XENOS in 2019.


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


Akram Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells London from 2005, Curve Leicester from 2015, and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts London from 2019.


About Akram Khan

Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists of today. In the past 20 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 XENOSUntil the LionsKaashiTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESHVertical RoadGnosis and zero degrees.


As 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, indie rock band Florence and the Machine, 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 recognised 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 programme, which led to an invitation to create his own critically acclaimed version of the iconic romantic ballet Giselle.


Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award), the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the Fred and Adele Astaire Award, the Herald Archangel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and eight Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of University of London as well as Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.


Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London and Curve, Leicester.

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