Akram Khan - XEN

Posted on 24 May 2018

Sadler’s Wells commissions Akram Khan to create new film XEN


Sadler’s Wells has commissioned Associate Artist Akram Khan to create a short film inspired by XENOS, his final new full-length solo which receives its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells next week. The 7-minute film, XEN, produced by Illuminations for Sadler’s Wells, is a reimagined version of Akram Khan’s performance for the screen, and is available for viewers to watch online at www.sadlerswells.com/digitalstage from noon Thursday 24 May 2018.

XEN is part of Sadler’s Wells’ commitment to developing new forms of dance which reach new audiences.

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive said: “I am so excited about this new collaboration with Akram Khan, which beautifully complements his live performances at Sadler’s Wells. We have a long standing ethos of accessibility and having the short film of XEN available on our website for free means that anyone around the world can enjoy and be inspired by Akram’s work.”

Akram Khan said: “XEN has been a wonderful experience and an incredible learning process, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. When I was growing up, music videos had a huge influence on me and inspired me to dance, and it’s amazing to be able to share XENOS in a different way and with wider audiences through the film.”

Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and highly regarded dance makers working today. He has collaborated with artists including actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost. A career highlight was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, set to Emeli Sandé’s rendition of Abide with Me.

Akram Khan became a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist in 2005. Sadler’s Wells has co-produced many works with Akram Khan Company, including his acclaimed solo work DESH.

XENOS, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, marks Khan’s final performances as a solo dancer in a new full-length piece. It receives its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells from 29 May - 9 June 2018. XENOS is part of Sadler’s Wells’ 20th anniversary celebrations, and is among 20 commissions celebrating 20 years of the current building, which opened in 1998.

Khan conjures the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the context of the First World War. Meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, XENOS takes place where humanity stands in wonder and disarray, on the border between East and West, past and present, mythology and technology. The production reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition and seeks to express tales of loss, hope and redemption, through a movement language that shifts between classical kathak and contemporary dance.

Sadler’s Wells’ other broadcast and digital projects in 2018 include curating and commissioning DanceWorksin partnership with the BBC, four 30-minute artist-led films broadcast on BBC Four earlier this month, which are available to view on i-player; a partnership with Channel 4’s Random Acts to commission three original films from Julie Cunningham, Alesandra Seutin and Botis Seva for broadcast later in the year; and Celestial Motion, a virtual reality experience adapted from Alexander Whitley’s production 8 Minutes, made by The Guardian’s award-winning VR team, with the Alexander Whitley Dance Company in association with Sadler’s Wells. Celestial Motion is available to view on Daydream and will be available on Google Cardboard and YouTube 360 video later this year. Download The Guardian’s new VR app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play StoreCelestial Motion was recently seen at Hot Docs in Toronto and is showing at British Council XR Festival in Madrid at the end of May.

During Ballet British Columbia’s visit to Sadler’s Wells in March, the theatre piloted two new digital initiatives; the post-show talk with the company’s artistic director Emily Molnar was live streamed to UK theatres’ Facebook pages, and a new film was created with local Get Into Dance ambassadors discussing their new dance experience. Both films can be seen on the Sadler’s Wells blog, and were produced in partnership with Dance Consortium as part of The Movement.






XEN is available for viewers to watch online at www.sadlerswells.com/digitalstage from noon Thursday 24 May 2018

Notes to editors:


Directed, choreographed and performed by Akram Khan, produced by Lucie Conrad 

Director of Photography: Ben Marshall

Editor: Josh Levinsky

Music: W.A. Mozart’s Lacrimosa, recomposed by Vincenzo Lamagna

Musicians: Nina Harries · Andrew Maddick Tamar Osborn · Aditya Prakash

Sound Designer: Vincenzo Lamagna

Art Director: Robin Hart
Costume Designer: Kimie Nakano
Sound Mixer: Tim Wheeler
Colourist: Paul Ingvarsson

Focus Puller: Sean McDermott

Gaffer: Esteban Gimpelewicz

Clapper Loader: Anastasia Romanchuka

Sparks: Edel Gardner · Leo Naessens Luke Priadi · Micky Reeves

Sound: Calum Sample

Rehearsal Dancer: Jacob Lang

Runners: Tariq Jordan · Amy Sharkey · Jamie Hart

Executive Producer for Sadler’s Wells: Alistair Spalding


An Illuminations production for Sadler’s Wells (2018)


About Akram Khan 

Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over 17 years he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the arts in the UK and abroad. His reputation has been built on the success of imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as Until the LionsKaashiTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESHVertical RoadGnosis and zero degrees.

An instinctive and natural collaborator, Khan has been a magnet to world-class artists from other cultures and disciplines. His previous collaborators include the National Ballet of China, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, singer Kylie Minogue, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost. A career highlight was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony that was received with unanimous acclaim.

As a choreographer, Khan has developed a close collaboration with English National Ballet and its Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. He created the short piece Dust, part of the Lest We Forget programme, which led to an invitation to create his own critically acclaimed version of the iconic romantic ballet Giselle.

Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award), the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the Fred and Adele Astaire Award, the Herald Archangel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and six Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005.

He is also an Honorary Graduate of University of London as well as Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban. Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells, London and Curve, Leicester.

About Akram Khan Company

Co-founded in 2000 by award-winning choreographer Akram Khan and producer Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company has established itself as one of the foremost innovative dance companies, performing to sell-out audiences in leading festivals and venues around the world. Embracing Khan’s artistic vision that both respects and challenges tradition and modernity, the Company has become renowned for its intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations, and has developed a significant range of works from classical kathak and modern solos to artist-to-artist duets and ensemble productions. A milestone in the Company’s journey was the creation of a section of the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2012.

The Company has been showered with prestigious honours including an Olivier Award for DESH and a record-breaking six Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Akram Khan Company enjoys artistic association with Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, Curve in Leicester, and other leading venues and festivals around the world.



About 14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations. It commissions new work by leading contemporary artists across all art forms; the programme has included over 200 artists from 35 countries, with commissions taking place in 160 locations across the UK. Over 30 million people have experienced a project so far, including 7.5 million children and young people. 16.7million people took part in LIGHTS OUT in 2014, and 63% of the population were aware of Jeremy Deller’s 2016 work ‘We’re here because we’re here’. The UK tour of the iconic poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper have been seen by over 3.5 million people to date.  14-18 NOW has won many awards for its work, including the National Lottery Heritage Award 2017, a Museums Heritage Award and the Chairman’s Awards at The Drum Social Buzz Awards 2016.  It is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and by additional fundraising.


About Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With over three centuries of theatrical heritage and a year-round programme of performances and learning activities, it is the place where artists come together to create dance, and where people of all backgrounds come to experience it – to take part, learn, experiment and be inspired.

Audiences of over half a million come to its London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at venues across the UK and around the world, and accessing its content through digital channels.

Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more new dance work than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 160 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today.

It also nurtures the next generation of talent through research and development, running the National Youth Dance Company and a range of programmes including Wild Card, New Wave Associates, Open Art Surgery and Summer University. Sadler's Wells' learning and engagement activities reach over 25,000 annually through programmes that take dance out into the community and invite communities into the theatre. Projects include community productions and the renowned Company of Elders, its resident over-60s performance group, while events range from pre and post-show talks with dance artists to classes, workshops and assisted performances.

Located in Islington, north London, the current building is the sixth to have stood on site since entrepreneur Richard Sadler first established the theatre in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since, with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera having all started at Sadler's Wells.



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