Akram Khan announces his final full-length solo production, to premiere in Sadler’s Wells’ Spring 2018 Season


One of the most celebrated and highly regarded dance makers working today, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan announces a new production, XENOS, which will mark his final performances as a dancer in a full-length piece. The production, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, is inspired by Greek mythology with a particular focus on the myth of Prometheus, and by specific events from the First World War.

XENOS, co-produced by Sadler’s Wells, will premiere in 2018, sixteen years after the debut of Khan’s acclaimed first full-length production Kaash. Sadler’s Wells will present the UK premiere from 29 May - 9 June, as part of its Spring 2018 Season announced today, and the production’s international tour. The London performances mark the opening night of the 14-18 NOW commemoration season. Tickets for XENOS and the Spring 2018 Season at Sadler’s Wells are on public sale from Monday 6 November at 10am.

XENOS, meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, seeks to express tales of loss, hope and redemption, through a movement language that shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance. Working from a text by acclaimed playwright Jordan Tannahill, alongside his world-class team of collaborators Khan will draw on the story of a shell-shocked Indian soldier trapped in a trench during the First World War, through the lens of the myth of Prometheus - the Titan who stole fire and gave it to mankind.

Reuniting with many of the stellar creative team from Khan’s celebrated 2011 solo work DESH, XENOS brings together dramaturg Ruth Little, award-winning lighting designer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Michael Hulls and costume designer Kimie Nakano. The set will be designed by Mirella Weingarten, and the score will be composed by Vincenzo Lamagna who created the music for Until the Lions and Khan’s award-winning Giselle for English National Ballet. Khan will be joined on stage by five international musicians: percussionist B C Manjunath, vocalist Aditya Prakash, bass player Nina Harries, violinist Andrew Maddick, and saxophonist Tamar Osborn.

Akram Khan said “My interest lies in both the mythological body and the technological body. I want to explore our connection with our past and our future, investigating specific questions that confront me more and more every day, such as how does ‘myth’ play a part in today’s society?
XENOS explores the central question at the heart of the myth – was Prometheus’ gift the blessing or the curse of mankind? And at its centre is a colonial soldier, one of over 4 million men mobilised on behalf of the British empire. 1.5 million of these recruits were Indian, mostly peasant-warriors from North and North-Western India, and they fought and died in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Many sepoys were buried abroad, while those who returned home, often mutilated and traumatised, were estranged from their own histories, homelands, and countrymen, becoming xenoi.
So, do we need to tell other people’s stories just in case they vanish? Who are the ‘other’ people? Are stories of human journeys told and retold again and 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?”

With an artistic vision that both respects and challenges Indian kathak form and contemporary dance, internationally renowned choreographer and dancer Akram Khan has created a substantial body of critically acclaimed work that ranges from classical and modern solos to cross-art form collaborations and company productions.

Recognised for the profoundly moving nature of his work, his reputation has been built on the success of imaginative and resonant productions such as Until the Lions, DESH, Gnosis and zero degrees, and collaborations with world-class artists and companies from other cultures and disciplines such as Juliette Binoche, Sylvie Guillem, Kylie Minogue, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Hanif Kureishi, Steve Reich and English National Ballet. In 2012 he was chosen to create and perform in a dance section that paid tribute to absent friends and family at the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, set to Emeli Sandé’s rendition of Abide with Me.

This autumn Khan’s work has been seen on the Sadler’s Wells stage with English National Ballet’s reprisal of Giselle, and he will curate and perform in the theatre’s inaugural presentation of the Darbar Festival, the established celebration of classical Indian music and dance from 9-12 November. Darbar comes to Sadler’s Wells to offer a classical dance programme for the first time since the festival launched over ten years ago.

Photo: Laurent Ziegler - http://mediacentre.kallaway.co.uk


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