Akram Khan is one of the most acclaimed choreographers of his generation working in Britain today. Born in London into a family of Bangladeshi origin, he began dancing at seven and studied with the renowned kathak dancer and teacher Sri Pratap Pawar.
After studying contemporary dance and working on the X-Group project with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in Brussels, he presented his first solo works in the late 1990s, maintaining his commitment to classical kathak as well as developing modern work. He was Choreographer-in-Residence and later Associate Artist at the Southbank Centre and is currently an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells.
Vertical Road is Khan’s latest contemporary ensemble work, and continues his ambition to explore the interfaces between different cultures and creative disciplines. He brings together a host of performers and artists from East and West. In 2011, Khan will continue touring with his most recent creation Gnosis in which he combines his classical Indian and contemporary dance roots.
His previous work In-I, a duet with Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche with visual design by Anish Kapoor, undertook a major international tour last year. His company piece bahok, originally produced in collaboration with National Ballet of China, has been critically acclaimed and completed its international tour in May 2010.
Amongst his earlier notable company works are Kaash (2002), a collaboration with artist Anish Kapoor and composer Nitin Sawhney, and ma (2004), with text by Hanif Kureishi. Other works include Sacred Monsters, featuring ballerina Sylvie Guillem, zero degrees, a collaboration with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney, and Variations, a production with London Sinfonietta in celebration of Steve Reich’s 70th birthday.
In 2006 Khan was invited by Kylie Minogue to choreograph a section of her Showgirl concert, which opened in Australia in November that year.
Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the prestigious ISPA Distinguished Artist Award in New York (2011), the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance (UK 2010, Gnosis), The Age Critics’ Award for Best New Work (2010, Vertical Road) at the Melbourne Arts Festival and the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography and Best Male Dancer (2007, zero degrees) in Sydney. He was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Roehampton and De Montfort Universities.