A Sacred Confluence | Interview with Akram Khan

7 March 2023

London-based dancer Akram Khan leads a creative lab in Tamil Nadu where participants revisit the traditions of classical Indian dance and music.

If there’s one word that constantly recurs in the world of dance artist Akram Khan, it is trauma. “Rupture, actually,” London-based Khan specifies, sitting at an apartment in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai. His team has just ordered us filter coffee; the beach is only a walk away. Outside, the city is dealing with inclement weather. His colleagues are wondering if they need to move to a hotel close to the airport to fly out early the next morning. But in the dining room where Khan and I sit down to have our conversation, the chaos seems to pause. For Khan—a British dancer and choreographer of Bangladeshi descent, whose background is rooted in Kathak training and contemporary dance—rupture and then the ensuing calm are fundamental to his practice. In the break and in the pause, the viewer is both challenged and comforted.

“You see, my mother, Mita, always said to me that when things are smooth, it doesn’t reveal who you are. You have got to drown to know really how badly it is that you want to survive.” Outside, in the living room, his mother is in conversation with the core team of Akram Khan Company (AKC), enjoying a light moment. “My mother used to dance, she was an academic, an intellectual; but my father never let her do what she wanted to. He always wanted to control her. He wanted to control me too; he’d always whisper into my ear that I’d be a failure; but fortunately for me, my mother was always around to quickly whisper into my other ear that people are always afraid of the possibilities you can become, they are afraid of your reach.”

To read the rest of the article by Ahila Krishnamurthy for Open Magazine, please click here.

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