Akram Khan’s XENOS at Sadler’s Wells in May



One of the most celebrated and highly regarded dance makers working today, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan presents the UK premiere of XENOS at Sadler’s Wells from 29 May – 9 June 2018.

The production is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and marks Khan’s final performances as a dancer in a full-length piece. 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.

Khan is joined on stage by five world-class musicians and a stellar creative team including fellow Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist lighting designer Michael Hulls, dramaturg Ruth Little, playwright Jordan Tannahill, set designer Mirella Weingarten, costumier Kimie Nakano and composer Vincenzo Lamagna.

Akram Khan said: “Out of all the creations I have been blessed to be involved in, XENOS is the one that I find to be the closest in line with my personal journey as an artist. The themes of reflection, death, rebirth, time, alienation, identity, memory, are all part of this creative process, and together with some incredible collaborators, I have embarked on this challenging journey, to give birth to XENOS

“Essentially, this work is a reflection of how I feel about our world today. It is about our loss of humanity, and how, through past and present wars, we are yet again confronted by the burning question of what it is to be human. How can we as humans, have such ability to create extraordinary and beautiful things from our imagination, and equally, our immense ability to create and commit violence and horrors beyond our imagination. Prometheus saw this in mankind before we as a species, ever recognised it.

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.

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 DESHTOROBAKA with flamenco artist Israel Galván, Sacred Monsters with Sylvie Guillem, and zero degrees, with fellow Associate Artists Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Nitin Sawhney.

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding said: “I am proud to present the UK premiere of XENOS at Sadler’s Wells and to offer our audiences the opportunity to see Akram perform in a full-length work for the last time. As with any of his thoughtful and moving works, XENOS is a personal story with universal relevance. By focusing on the journey of an Indian dancer turned combatant, Akram shines a light not only on the role of colonial soldiers in the First World War, but also on timely issues such as identity and memory – who writes history? Does everyone get the recognition they deserve? He also draws a parallel between the myth of the Titan Prometheus, whose self-healing liver is destined to be forever eaten by an eagle, and man’s cyclical return to conflict and destruction. Importantly, Akram does all this without ever losing hope in humanity.”

Commissioned by 14 – 18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and sponsored by COLAS

A Sadler’s Wells co-production

Akram Khan and Michael Hulls are Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists

Insight into Akram Khan’s XENOS: Sunday 3 June at 4pm; £15 (£10 with XENOS ticket)

The Monument Trust supports co-productions and new commissions at Sadler’s Wells  

Press night: Wednesday 30 May at 7.30pm

XENOS on tour:

Montpellier Danse, France: 26-27 June

Edinburgh International Festival, UK: 16-18 August

Curve Leicester, UK: 21-22 September

National Arts Center, Ottawa, Canada: 11-13 October

Canadian Stage, Toronto, Canada: 18-21 October