In the fine programme note for Xenos, Akram Khan describes how, while he was working on this new piece, his body “was complaining all the time”, adding that it has “really shut down”.
Now 43, the great British Asian dancer-choreographer is undoubtedly speaking in earnest (dancers always know their bodies inside-out, and cut themselves no slack), and is merely explaining why this is the last substantial solo show he is planning to create for himself, and why he’s starting to shift towards creating steps for others. However, watch him power his way through this blistering 65 minutes of dance, and you may find that your definition of “really shut down” is rather different from his.
Taking its name from the Greek for “foreigner” or “stranger”, Xenos – having its UK premiere this week at Sadler’s Wells – sees Khan mark the end of the First World War just as his 2014 English National Ballet piece Dust did its beginning. Drawn from dozens of first-hand testimonies, the piece is chiefly a tribute to the 4.5 million non-British soldiers (including 1.5 million Indians) who died fighting for Britain during the First World War. But it’s also, in title and content alike, a pointed rebuke to the suspicion of outsiders that seems to have become such a prevalent trait of our times.”
To read the rest of the review from Mark Monahan, click here.