Akram Khan Co turns 20 with The Silent Burn

Published: 26 September 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Akram Khan and Sylvie Guillem in Sacred Monsters 2006 Credit: Tristram Kenton
Israel Galván and Akram Khan in Torobaka 2014 Credit: Jean-Louis Fernandez
Until the Lions 2016 Credit: Jean-Louis Fernandez

Akram Khan Company will celebrate its 20th anniversary on 4 October 2020 with a live-streamed programme of work, The Silent Burn Project, accessible for free on the company's web site, YouTube channel and Facebook Live.

The programme will feature short films with Akram Khan Company dancers Yen-Ching Lin, Ching-Ying Chien, Theo T J Lowe, Kristina Alleyne, Sadé Alleyne, Kennedy Junior Mutanga and Akram Khan himself, as well as musicians Sohini Alam, Nina Harries, B C Manjunath, David Azurza and Chitra Poornima Sathish.

The event will also include Symphony of Fingerprints, a documentary series in three episodes that highlights unseen and rare moments of the creative process from various productions, with stories told by Khan’s close collaborators, dramaturg Ruth Little, composer Vincenzo Lamagna, creative associate Mavin Khoo and dancer Joy Alpuerto Ritter.

There will be two panel discussions: the first will focus on Otherness, with contributions from American ballerina Misty Copeland, British poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Indian cultural critic Rustom Bharucha, South East Asian cultural activist Eddin Khoo and British lecturer in theatre Royona Mitra; the second will examine perspectives on God, with British anthropologist Jerome Lewis, Indian dance researcher Jayachandran Surendran and Indonesian writer and activist Ayu Utami.

The company has also released The Fury of Beautiful Things, a photo book of photographs of the twenty-six works Khan created since his company was founded, alongside personal essays written by Khan and Farooq Chaudhry.

Khan said, “we are in the midst of a seismic change and so I feel, this may be an opportunity for all of us to collectively unearth our past. A past that we may have buried away in the earth and in our bodies, always silently hoping that it would remain in the past. So much of this past was and still is, rooted in the ideas and actions of separation, neglect, hope, fear and denial. And it has slowly and inevitably melted into the themes and narratives within the work that I have created over the last twenty years at AKC.

"But to look back requires courage. And in my journey as an artist, I must continue to shout loudly: I was never alone in unearthing these challenging stories.

"And so here we are, at a moment in time where we are forced to stop travelling, to stop moving, to just stop. But stop to me, doesn’t mean stop. I like to believe it just means pause.

"Hence, after these twenty years of unearthing, discovering, and retelling through new lenses, this is a moment for me to reflect and to look back at the footsteps that we at AKC have taken collectively. It has enabled me to appreciate all the footsteps that have been following us, and at times leading us but most often, walking with us, so we never had to feel alone on this ever-lonesome journey of an artist, whose voice, body and skin always belonged to the earth and not to the sky.”