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One of UK's finest choreographers, Akram Khan's dance transforms space and confounds categories. The artist on his journey so far.
This January, Akram Khan was told he would never dance again. With an injury to the Achilles tendon risking his entire career as a performer, he chose a risky surgery. In March, he started to walk again. "A funny walk," he calls it. "So the show is not show-level really. It is different. It will always be 95 per cent (from now on). But what happened during that period of the body being inactive is that my mind started to dance a lot."
But Akram Khan need not worry. His non-show-level dance is what most will never achieve and only the best can aspire to. When he recently took the stage for The Park's New Festival (curated and conceived by Prakriti Foundation) in Delhi, there was no disputing the legitimacy of the title he has earned over the last decade — one of UK's finest choreographers. The British-Bangladeshi's 90-minute performance of Kathak and contemporary dance took the audience from this world to another. The 38-year-old dances with the might of thunder, the lines of lightning and the terrifying beauty of a summer thunderstorm. He transforms space, performs with precision and releases you enriched.
As a choreographer and founder of the Akram Khan Company, Khan appeals to a wide range of tastes. If he has worked on the theme of "mortality" with British film director Danny Boyle and 50 dancers for the recent Olympics opening ceremony, he has also performed a duet with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche on sets designed by Anish Kapoor.
Performing in India after nearly a decade for a six-city tour, Khan chose Gnosis — a Kathak solo and a contemporary duet with Taiwanese dancer Fang-Yi Sheu about the blindfolded Gandhari and her son Duryodhana — to illustrate his journey as both a dancer and a choreographer.