World Première: 21 February 2018, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens


Whose war?
Whose fire?
Whose hand is this?
Xenos by Jordan Tannahill


We are extremely excited to present Akram’s most anticipated new solo, XENOS, which marks his final performances as a dancer in a full-length piece.

In this brand-new work commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, 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. 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.

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 Fra Rustumji, and saxophonist Tamar Osborn.

Artistic Director/Choreographer/Performer Akram Khan

Dramaturg Ruth Little
Lighting Designer Michael Hulls
Original Music Score and Sound Design Vincenzo Lamagna
Set Designer Mirella Weingarten
Costume Designer Kimie Nakano
Writer Jordan Tannahill
Rehearsal Directors Mavin Khoo and Nicola Monaco

Dancer Akram Khan
Musicians Nina Harries (double bass & vocals), B C Manjunath (percussions & konnakol), Tamar Osborn (baritone saxophone), Aditya Prakash (vocals), Fra Rustumji (violin)

Executive Producer Farooq Chaudhry
Technical Director Richard Fagan
Production Manager John Valente
Technical Coordinator Peter Swikker
Stage Manager Marek Pomocki
Lighting Engineer Stéphane Déjours
Sound Engineer Julien Deloison
Technician Russell Parker
Project/Tour Manager Mashitah Omar
Props made by Louise Edge from LFX props & special fx

The original music score was devised in collaboration with Nina Harries, Andrew Maddick, B C Manjunath, Tamar Osborn, Aditya Prakash; and contains extracts from Requiem in D minor K. 626 (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire (traditional composition), Tu Karim (traditional composition), Chhap Tilak (Amir Khusro), Babul Mora (Nawab Wajid Ali Shah), Naiharwa (Kabir).

Commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Co-produced by Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens, The Grange Festival Hampshire, Sadler’s Wells London, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Théâtre de la Ville – Paris/La Villette – Paris, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, National Arts Centre Ottawa, The Center for China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF), Centro Cultural de Belém, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Grec 2018 Festival de Barcelona, HELLERAU – European Center for the Arts Dresden, Tanz Köln, Edinburgh International Festival, Adelaide Festival, Festival Montpellier Danse 2018, Julidans Amsterdam, Canadian Stage Toronto, Romaeuropa Festival, Torinodanza festival / Teatro Stabile di Torino – Teatro Nazionale, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts New York, University of California Berkeley, Danse Danse Montreal, Curve Leicester, La Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand – scène nationale.

Sponsored by COLAS

Supported by Arts Council England

Akram Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells London and Curve Leicester.
Produced during residency at The Grange Festival, Hampshire and Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens (OCC).

Special thanks to Katia Arfara & the OCC team, Michael Chance, Michael Moody, Nigel Hinds, Jenny Waldman, Sarah Goodfellow, Hervé Le Bouc, Delphine Lombard, Béatrice Abeille-Robin, Mr. & Mrs. Khan, Yuko Khan, Sayuri & Kenzo Khan, Dannii Evans, Zia Ali, Es Devlin, Zena Edwards, Tim Freke, Ronan Harrington, Daniel Hernandez, Amit Lahav, Jerome Lewis, Confucius MC, Vahakn Matossian, Camilla Power, Ella Saltmarshe, Murray Shanahan, Zahed Sultan, Temujen Gunawandena, Jess Balla, Chris Timpson, Paul Evans, Robin Leonard, Florian Stagliano.

Akram Khan gratefully acknowledges Akram Khan Company staff team: Farooq Chaudhry, Jan Hart, Richard Fagan, Tina Fagan, Mashitah Omar, Clare Cody-Richardson, Céline Gaubert, Christine Maupetit, Amy Sharkey, Hannah Patel, Mai Tassinari, Nathan White, and all those who contributed to make the production successful.


"Directing this short film, was like writing a song, except the words had a will of their own, just as the movements had its own sense of truth, independent to the choreography of the camera. It has been a real learning process, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.” – Akram


Teaser II

Teaser I

In the press

Plinth: 'I will show you fear in a handful of dust' by Sammi Gale (15 June 2018)

“We’re whisked away to a fundamental and deep-reaching plane, and into the all too human experience of self-alienation.”

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The Guardian: 'Unequalled Fragility' by Luke Jennings (3 June 2018)

“As Vincenzo Lamagna’s fine score builds in volume and intensity, Khan gives us the failing body, the breaking body, the body as repository of physical and psychic pain.”

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The Stage: 'A work of incredible potency' by Neil Norman (1 June 2018)

“Both a tribute to and a lament for the 1.5 million Indian soldiers who fought in the trenches of the First World War, it expands beyond its original intent to interrogate the purpose of humanity in an increasingly inhumane world.”

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The Telegraph: 'Akram Khan Company, Sadler's Wells: a triumph of energy, empathy and intelligence' by Mark Monahan (30 May 2018)

“A triumph of collaboration, the entire piece radiates this sort of magic-realist, borderline surreal logic – reminiscent, in fact, of Khan’s earlier one-man masterpiece DESH (2011), but in a far darker vein.”

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Sunday Times: 'Poised for the Last Dance' by Sarah Crompton (22 April 2018)

“I suppose it is the inevitability of growing up. I am so involved emotionally and psychologically in the politics of the world now.”


'I'm fighting time': Akram Khan on his last full solo, XENOS - in pictures by Akram Khan (29 March 2018)

“In my work, I need a character I can relate to – but also a character who can relate to me.”

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LIMELIGHT: XENOS - a haunting lament of the body in conflict by Rhys Ryan (18 March 2018)

“It is a visually arresting experience on a scale so grand that, at times, you don’t believe your eyes. And, at its heart, it is a sobering exploration of the human experience of war and its ripple-like effects on humanity.”

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InDaily: The much-fêted Akram Khan’s final full-length dance performance is a consummate work of anguish and exquisite beauty by Katherine Arguile (18 March 2018)

“One suspects as the lights come up at the end of his extraordinarily wrought and skilful performance that it is one of such emotional, as well as physical intensity, that it leaves him as shattered and breathless as it leaves us.”

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LIFO: We saw the masterpiece XENOS by Akram Khan at the world premiere by Tina Mandalara (22 February 2018)

“This is not just another work but life itself: it is a search for identity, a process that threatens to uproot every individual from his world and his fundamental ties.”

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Behind the scenes

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