Akram Khan pp 31-51 | Cite as

Khan’s Body-of-Action

  • Royona Mitra
Part of the New World Choreographies book series (NWC)


As a London-based second-generation British-Bangladeshi with training in multiple performance vocabularies that permeate every aspect of his aesthetic, it would be reductive, even impossible, to engage with Khan’s art without understanding the embodied reality and the socio-political contexts that catalyse it. Sondra Horton Fraleigh reminds us of the fundamental link between a dancer’s lived reality and their art:

Because dance is in essence an embodied art, the body is the lived (experiential) ground of the dance aesthetic. Both dancer and audience experience dance through its lived attributes — its kinaesthetic and existential character. Dance is the art that intentionally isolates and reveals the aesthetic qualities of the human body-of-action and its vital life. (Fraleigh xiii)

To understand the kinaesthetic qualities of Khan’s art requires an engagement with his dance vocabulary drawn from kathak and contemporary dance idioms. Moreover his embodiment of eclectic movement languages is nuanced further by his own biographical circumstances and his interactions with the wider field of British South Asian arts. Together they generate complex affiliations to diverse traditions, cultures, nations and histories. It is this processual intersection between his biography and his art that lends Khan’s vital life its charge, and infiltrates his new interculturalism with a spirit of ‘self-knowledge’, evoking identity not as a fixed inherited entity, but as an ongoing exploration of its incomplete and multi-layered constructions (Fraleigh xxii).


Physical Theatre South Asian Immigrant Alexander Technique Dance Training Contemporary Dance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Royona Mitra 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royona Mitra
    • 1
  1. 1.Brunel University LondonUK

Personalised recommendations