chapter  3
12 Pages

Beyond fixity

Akram Khan on the politics of dancing heritages
ByRoyona Mitra

There has been a long-standing western tendency to view non-western performance traditions as fossilised and monolithic heritages that must be preserved. The label 'contemporary kathak', which has often been applied by scholars and critics alike to the works of the influential British Bangladeshi dancer/choreographer Akram Khan, perpetuates such limited and limiting thinking. Khan's unique aesthetic arises out of his embodied negotiations between his training in multiple movement vocabularies and his complex identity politics as a London-based, second-generation British Bangladeshi, and a father to children of mixed racial and cultural heritages with his Japanese partner. Khan's approach to dance making is therefore characterised by a continuous and oscillatory relationship between and across temporalities, while he weaves his embodied knowledge of the past into his multidimensional and ever-changing present, signalling his futures as both unpredictable and therefore full of unknown possibilities, waiting to be discovered.