Akram Khan

JAN. 26. 27. 28. 2012 – 8 p.m.


“More and more, I am pulled reluctantly towards a strong horizontal current, which is a place where time is moving at such high velocity that even our breath is forced to accelerate just in order for us humans to survive. And I have always believed that it is in our slow exhalation where the sense of this deep spiritual energy resides. In a world moving so fast, with the growth of technology and information, I am somehow inclined to move against this current, in search of what it might mean to be connected not just spiritually, but also vertically.”  (Akram Khan)

Vertical Road  

photo © Richard Haughon, Interprète :Paul Zivkovich , Andrej Petrovic,
Eulalia Ayguade Farro, Yen-Ching Lin, Konstandina Efthymiadou,
Ahmed Khemis, Young Jin Kim


Vertical Road premiered at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in October 2010. This piece for eight dancers was inspired by the work of Rumi, the great Persian poet and founder of one of the most important Sufi traditions. Described by Khan as “the journey from gravity to grace”, Vertical Road explores man’s earthly nature, his rituals and the consequences of human actions. This passionate odyssey is enriched by the music of the much sought-after composer and arranger Nitin Sawhney (Sting, Shakira, Cirque de Soleil), a fabulous travelling companion.

“Exceptional in every way was Akram Khan's Vertical Road, a cathartic expression of beauty, ecstasy, struggle and transcendence. Strengthened by Nitin Sawhney's soundtrack of digital washes and throbbing acoustic percussion, it is a spiritual exercise evoking mortality and the divine.”(The Australian, Sydney)

“Akram Khan’s Vertical Road nails the empty confusion of our high-velocity, high-pressure modern lives. Driven by a powerful score from Nitin Sawhney, Vertical Road is Khan at his most hypnotic, his dance a seamless fusion of contemporary and classical kathak influences. Spinning images of whirling dervishes (echoing Khan’s early solo work) corkscrew through the action, a physical articulation of the emotional whirlpool eddying around an impressive group of eight dancers, their minds and bodies whirring together in a quest to find a sense of purpose when there’s nothing left to believe in.” (Metrolife, London)

Akram Khan, Artistic director, choreographer and dancer

Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed British choreographers of his generation. Born in London in 1974 into a family of Bangladeshi origin, he began dancing at the age of seven. He studied with the great kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar, who became his mentor. He began performing at age 14 as a dancer in Peter Brook’s legendary Mahabharata, touring the piece around the world and appearing in the 1988 televised version as well.

Akram Khan  

photo © Laurent Ziegler


After studying contemporary dance and working on the X-Group project with Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker in Brussels, he presented his first solo works in the late 1990s. Maintaining his commitment to classical kathak alongside his modern work, he developed an innovative and contemporary language of movement. His better known solos include Polaroid Feet (2001), Ronin (2003) and Third Catalogue (2005).

He founded his own company in August 2000 with the producer Farooq Chaudhry, which provided him with a platform for innovation and a diverse range of work through collaboration with artists from disciplines ranging from theatre to literature, film, visual arts and music.

As choreographer in residence at the South Bank Centre, he presented a recital with Pandit Birju Maharaj and Sri Pratap Pawar, plus A God of Small Tales, a piece for mature women with text by the acclaimed writer Hanif Kureishi. He was the first non-musician to be appointed associate artist (until April 2005) at the South Bank Centre, and is currently an associate artist at Sadler's Wells Theatre.

His most recent ensemble piece Vertical Road is further evidence of his ongoing desire to explore the relations between different cultures and creative disciplines. Akram Khan brings together a host of performers and artists from East and West. The piece began touring in September 2010.

His latest work Gnosis mingles his classical Indian dance roots with contemporary dance. Working with world-class musicians from India, Pakistan, Japan and the United Kingdom, he brings the opposing worlds of tradition and innovation face to face.

Other recent works include In-I (2008), a duo with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche and visual design by Anish Kapoor; bahok (2007), a collaboration with the National Ballet of China; Sacred Monsters (2006), a duet with the ballerina Sylvie Guillem; Variations (2006), produced in conjunction with London Sinfonietta to celebrate the 70th birthday of composer Steve Reich; and zero degrees (2005), a collaboration with the dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Antony Gormley, and Nitin Sawhney.

Outstanding earlier works include Kaash (2002), a collaboration with Nitin Sawhney and the artist Anish Kapoor, and ma in 2004 (with text by Hanif Kureishi), which received a South Bank Show award in 2005.

Akram Khan was invited by Kylie Minogue to choreograph part of her Showgirl concert, which opened in Australia in November 2006 and was later presented in the United Kingdom in January 2007.

He has received several awards, including the Jerwood Foundation choreography award (2000); two Outstanding Newcomer to Dance awards presented by the Critics' Circle and Time Out Live (2000); the Best Modern Choreography award presented by the Critics' Circle (2002); the International Movimentos Tanzpreis (2004) for most promising newcomer in dance; the 2005 Critics’ Circle award for outstanding male artist (modern dance); and a South Bank Show award (2005). Akram Khan was also nominated for a Nijinsky Award in 2002. More recently, he was the recipient of the International Theatre Institute’s 2007 award for excellence in international dance. That same year, he received the best male dancer award and the award for best choreography (zero degrees) at the Helpmann Awards ceremony in Sydney, Australia.

In 2004 Akram Khan received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from De Montfort University in Leicester for his contribution to the UK arts community, and the following year was named a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to dance. He recently also received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Roehampton University in London.

It is the third time that the Danse Danse series is presenting Akram Khan after ma in May 2005 and In-I in January 2009.

Nitin Sawhney, Composer of Vertical Road

Nitin is arguably the busiest, most versatile and most sought after composer and producer alive today. Having recently signed a lucrative deal with Universal Publishing, he has made eight studio albums, for which he has been nominated for a Mercury Music prize, won a MOBO, two BBC Radio 3 awards and a Southbank show award. He has scored over 40 films for cinema and television including Salman Rushdie’s new screenplay Midnight’s Children, Mira Nair’s recent film The Namesake, two recent film scores for live performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and two biopics respectively about Brian Epstein and Jean Charles De Menezes.

He has been a regular DJ with London club Fabric, performed around the world with leading orchestras and his band, composed extensively for renowned dancer, Akram Khan, gaining best composition award from New York for his music for zero degrees, and has composed for many theatrical productions including Olivier award winning work from Complicite’s A Disappearing Number.

His career spans production and composition work with Sting, Cirque Du Soleil, Shakira, Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Tao Cruz, Imogen Heap, Anoushka Shankar and many others. Recently he has also scored for videogames, including Sony Playstation’s number one game, Heavenly Sword and the forthcoming Enslaved. He is currently scoring a major eight part TV series for the BBC, Human Planet.

As the recipient of four Honorary doctorates from separate universities, fellowships from LIPA and Southbank University and considerable critical acclaim he also acts as a patron to many educational establishments, is now a judge for The Ivor Novello Awards, BAFTA, BIFA and sits on the board of trustees for London’s Whitechapel Gallery and Somerset House. He is currently an Associate Artist at the Sadler’s Wells.

Lenght Vertical Road 1 h 10. - Warning: strobe light and smoke

Artistic Director and Choreographer Akram Khan •Composer Nitin Sawhney • LightingJesper Kongshaug • Costume Kimie Nakano • Producer Farooq Chaudhry • Technical Director Fabiana Piccioli • Set conceived by Akram Khan, Kimie Nakano, Jesper Kongshaug • Material devised and performed by Eulalia Ayguade Farro, Konstandina Efthymiadou, Salah El Brogy, Ahmed Khemis, Yen-Ching Lin, Andrej Petrovic, Elias Lazaridis, Sung Hoon Kim • Dramaturge Ruth Little • Researcher Jess Gormley • Rehearsal Director Andrej Petrovic • Technical Coordinator Richard Fagan • Technicians Marcus Hyde, Lucy Record •Tour Manager Arthur Laurent.

Sponsored by COLAS • Co-produced by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage), Curve Theatre Leicester, Sadler’s Wells London, Théâtre de la Ville Paris, Centre national des arts à Ottawa, Mercat de les Flors Barcelona • Produced during residencies at Curve Theatre, Leicester et à DanceEast, Ipswich • Supported by Arts Council England • Special thanks to Assis Carreiro, Paul Kerryson, Alistair Spalding, Béatrice Abeille-Robin, Isadora Papadrakakis, Jayne Stevens, Su-Man Hsu, Paul Zivkovich, Young Jin Kim, Nicola Monaco, Shanell Winlock, Mr et Mrs Khan, Ruth Barclay, Vicki Jacobs, Rachel Farrer, Tia-Monique Pilgrim et Ottilie Robin.


www.youtube.com (Vertical Road)