Akram Khan Company Marks 20 Years With The Silent Burn Project

Loose in Flight by Chris Nash
Loose in Flight by Chris Nash

Akram Khan Company, one of the most innovative and internationally respected contemporary dance companies, will celebrate its 20th anniversary on 4 October 2020. The company, formed in 2000 by Akram Khan and Farooq Chaudry, has become renowned for its imaginative, highly accessible and profoundly moving productions where the storytelling is at once epic and intimate. Khan has become recognised around the world as one of the most important choreographers working today.

To mark the anniversary the company will present a live streamed programme of work celebrating its 20-year history. The Silent Burn Project will combine storytelling with personal experiences from the multiple voices and talents who have contributed to the company’s work over the last two decades. All the content, including dance and music short films, panel discussions, touring memories and documentaries, has been produced and created exclusively for the milestone. Launching worldwide at midday (BST) on Sunday 4 October, the stream will be accessible for free around the world on the company website, YouTube channel and Facebook Live.

With The Silent Burn Project, the Company invites the audience to embark on a journey of dance and music with international artists around the world. The programme will feature short films with Akram Khan Company dancers Yen-Ching Lin, Ching-Ying Chien, Theo TJ 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, Chitra Poornima Sathish.

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

This programme is finally an opportunity to explore questions fundamental to the Company’s values, and to create a space of dialogue with artists and thinkers as part of two panel discussions. The first will focus on Otherness, with special 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. A second conversation will examine perspectives on God, gathering the compelling views of 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 looking back at their last two decades in dance. The monograph is the first devoted to Akram Khan Company and is made up of outstanding photographs of the twenty-six works Khan created since his company was founded, alongside personal essays written by Khan and Farooq Chaudhry. A selection of images from the book and the last 20 years can be downloaded here.

This autumn Akram Khan will also be featured in a new portrait documentary produced by Netflix. Released as part of MOVE, a series on contemporary dance directed by Thierry Demaizière and Alban Teurlai, it will air worldwide on 23 October.

Akram Khan, Artistic Director and co-founder of Akram Khan Company 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.”

More details, including how to watch, can be found here

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