The Modern House Podcast

Akram Khan: the poignant story of a man who found his voice through dance

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Episode notes

Akram’s rich career includes performing at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, collaborating with artists Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley, and choreographing tours and videos for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Florence + the Machine. He was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. 

He kindly invited us to his home last summer and we recorded this conversation in a shady spot in the garden. Akram is of Bangladeshi descent and he grew up above his parents’ restaurant in south-west London. He was bullied at school and harassed by the National Front outside of it, so he’s always had a conflicted view of his community. As a child, he was introverted to the point of being mute, and movement quickly became his primary form of expression. He tells me how he danced so enthusiastically at home that the lights in the restaurant below would start shaking, putting the customers off their food. The word ‘home’ has come to mean many things for Akram: it’s the small studio in the garden where he practises dance for four hours every morning, it’s the stage on which he performs, and it’s also his own body. 

As is the case for so many true artists, there’s a lot of conflicting emotion inside him. He talks particularly poignantly about his relationship with his late father, who always struggled to demonstrate his love. Akram’s story has really stayed with me. Being able to talk to people on this podcast is a great privilege, and conversations like this one really remind me of that.

For more: 

Visit The Modern House website to see images of the spaces discussed in this episode

Check out the latest from the Akram Khan Company

Production: Hannah Phillips

Editing and mixing: Oscar Crawford

Graphic Design: Tom Young

Music: Father

This episode was sponsored by Vitsoe

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