Carnival of Shadows

“Sadler’s Wells Theatre has been my dancing home for the last 16 years I hold our longstanding relationship with Alistair and the staff at Sadler’s with great respect and gratitude.

The past twenty years of AKC have been of an epic undertaking. Together with the AKC producer Farooq Chaudhry and my incredible team, we chose to seek out artists from across the world and gather not just their incredible expertise, but their different insights into the fundamental questions of why we dance and how can we bring certain stories that may have been forgotten, erased, oppressed, or just hiding in the shadows, to the frontline of our rapidly changing global arena.

But the beguiling thing about this very moment, is that I feel the past twenty years has been a journey mostly about finding my voice, (which was lurking in the shadows of my childhood community), and now that the voice is more present in a more global community, it feels so exciting to start using that voice to discover its range into the future.

So, in a sense, I feel like we at the Akram Khan Company, are at a threshold; a doorway between two periods, the past and the future, sort of like the Roman god ‘Janus’, who had a two-faced image, both looking backwards and forwards, representing a time after an end but before a beginning.”
-Akram Khan

“Twenty years on, it still feels like we’re just beginning. It’s exhilarating and beautiful to feel this way.”
– Farooq Chaudhry

As the Company turned 21, we marked the beginning of our third decade of storytelling. From 23 November – 4 December 2021 we presented Carnival of Shadows at Sadler’s Wells, a production curated as part of the programme reflected where, after two decades of learning and collaborating, we had arrived. Carnival of Shadows served as a moment for us to gather with our beloved UK audiences, to reassemble, communally, in the most sacred space to us: the theatre.

We opened with programme with the UK premiere of Outwitting the Devil. Though this ensemble work was created in 2019, the show speaks on the ever-present, pressing themes of humanity’s relationship to the natural world. Similarly, Akram’s final full-length solo XENOS, reflects on the brutality of the First World War to mirror our current tumultuous times. The production echoes the violence we continue to witness in the world around us. We also took this opportunity to take over the Lilian Baylis with family show, Chotto Xenos that takes young audiences back in time to explore the often forgotten and untold stories of soldiers from colonised nations during the First World War. The show shines the very necessary light on our present and future.

You can watch trailers, documentation of the-making-of and more on our YouTube channel, and The Renovātiō Series was our digital programme as part of the season.

Photo by © Nicol Vizioli

Carnival of Shadows

Conceptual Trailer

A Film by Nicol Vizioli


"Khan’s opaque new work for his own company, Outwitting the Devil, shared Creature’s bleak sense of oppression but contained some sensationally beautiful movement. "

- Sarah Crompton


The Observer | Best Dance of 2021

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