By Royona Mitra
Via seven key case stories from Khan's oeuvre, this e-book demonstrates how Akram Khan's 'new interculturalism' is a problem to the Nineteen Eighties western 'intercultural theatre' undertaking, as a extra nuanced and embodied method of representing Othernesses, from his personal place of the opposite.
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Additional info for Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism
The Khans realised the upward social mobility attached to the latter and aspired to have both Khan and his sister attend private school. While his sister did achieve this, Khan admits that ‘I just never got in. I tried all of them. I didn’t get in’ (Ak. Khan qtd in Patterson). Thus, from a young age, Khan’s complex identity evolved at the intersections of British education in the public domain and Bengali culture in the private sphere. We observe a similar openness to cultures and people in Anwara Khan’s anecdotes about her son learning Bangladeshi folk dance from the age of three while being simultaneously fascinated by the choreography of the late Michael Jackson.
It is the evocatively crafted marriage of the film and the choreography that suggests an intersection between Khan’s hybridised aesthetic and his equally complex identity-politics. By locating his diasporic body within a contested landscape that has long disenfranchised the migrant communities who inhabit it, the dance-film becomes a political intervention. In the spirit of auto-ethnography through the artefact of the dance-film both the enquirer – Khan – and the subject of his enquiry – his own lived conditions – are one and the same.
15 It is precisely through his influential presence and seeming conformity within such a mainstream space that Khan’s new interculturalism interrupts banal representations of otherness. By grounding it in the lived realities of non-white, privileged and mobile diasporic subjects who as others themselves negotiate multiple forms of otherness, Khan articulates his own selves through encounters with alterities within mainstream British culture. Khan thus critiques the naiveté of intercultural theatre’s appropriations of otherness by unapologetically representing othered realities as specific to non-white realities.
Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism by Royona Mitra