EXCL: Akram Khan draws the curtain on full-length solo performances with XENOS

The renowned dancer-choreographer revealed that his body encouraged him to retire from full-length productions
Akram Khan in XENOS
Akram Khan in XENOS

Akram Khan, the internationally recognised dancer and choreographer with roots in classical training, recently drew the curtains on his full-length solo performance at the cultural and theatre hub NCPA, Mumbai.

Named XENOS, the performance marked his last dance in a full-length production and while the audience wanted to treat their eyes to his swift yet elegant movements a little more, Akram now has some new chapters to unfold.

While Akram did not reveal his future plans entirely in this exclusive chat with Indulge, he did take a walk down memory lane and recalled some of his most cherished performances, what drives him to the stage and much more...

<strong>A shot from the performance</strong>
A shot from the performance

Read excerpts:

Take us back in time and talk to us about us your first-ever solo stage performance.  

My first solo performance was titled Kathak Solo in 2001. The piece combined classical Indian kathak dance with contemporary influences.

Close to the finale, how were you feeling?

I was feeling a multitude of emotions but mostly I was happy to bring this “soldier” back to his homeland. Honestly, to finish with XENOS felt incomplete as I never had any full-length contemporary solos, but my body encouraged me to retire from full-length performances over time.

What made you pick NCPA for this final performance?

I'm playing an Indian classical dancer thrust into the trenches of Europe, fighting a war he does not understand. It felt only right that my last performances concluded with the NCPA, Mumbai. Prior to this, my performance here was TOROBAKA in 2015 and if anything, I remember a sense of excitement and joy to be able to share the thrill of dance.

XENOS is a story of a colonial soldier in WWI. What kind of research went into this?

Each production demands several years of investment and immersion in several phases; it includes a period purely for the creative team to work with each other and to collect ideas. This eventually leads to the development of the choreography.

What was the inspiration behind this performance?  

I was invited by an organisation called 14-18 NOW to create a piece for the First World War centenary. They suggested that I find some connection to the war in the solo I was making. However, I felt driven by several articles that were written about the First World War during the creation of my solo. Ruth Little, my dramaturg, was sharing archival material and the stories of the Indian colonial soldiers that I had never known about, so I felt like I have a duty to give a voice to these unheard stories.

What does the future hold in store for you?

New chapters will unfold. I have many projects that I am excited about and I feel very blessed. More to come soon.

Mail: muskankhullar@newindianexpress.com
Twitter: @muskankhullar03

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