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 gifted young dancer and 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 the Akram Khan Company one year later.
Inspired by Khan’s early training in the Indian classical dance form kathak, and the hybrid language that organically emerged when his kathak training encountered contemporary dance in his teens, a vision began to form, fueled 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 journeys across boundaries to create uncompromising artistic narratives.
In just over twenty years, Akram Khan Company is now undisputedly one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world. The programs 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 productions DESH (2012) and XENOS (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 one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over twenty 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 Outwitting the Devil, XENOS, Until the Lions, Kaash, iTMOi (in the mind of igor), Vertical Road, DESH, Gnosis, 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 dance companies English National Ballet and 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 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 developed a close collaboration with English National Ballet (ENB) under its past 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 acclaimed version of the iconic romantic ballet Giselle. In 2019, ENB performed Khan’s Giselle at the Harris Theater for its exclusive US engagement to four sold-out houses filled with audience members from 33 states and six countries. ENB returned to the Harris Theater in 2022 with Khan’s second full-length production for the company, Creature.
In recent years, Khan has moved into television, specifically documentaries. He has created three documentaries with Swan Films for Channel 4, the Sky Arts documentary series Why Do We Dance, and an episode of the Netflix series MOVE.
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 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 has recently been announced as the new Chancellor of De Montfort University, and he is also an Honorary Graduate of University of London, University of Roehampton, and De Montfort University and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London and Curve Theatre in Leicester, where Jungle Book reimagined premiered in 2022.