Akram Khan reflects on transition

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< Insight and Inspiration

Acclaimed dancer and choreographer Akram Khan speaks to DCD about his own transition from a performance career.


14th August 2018

“My transition from a performance career into a non-performance career is a continuous transition, perhaps for another few years until I completely stop performing on stage.”

Akram Khan is preparing to present Xenos at the Edinburgh Festival.

As Xenos marks Akram’s final performances as a dancer in a full-length piece, he recently spoke to DCD reflecting on this final performance, his own transition from a performance career and his thoughts on dancer transition and retraining.

Akram spoke honestly of his awareness of time impacting the body and the importance for dancers to “remain dancers, even when we retire from the stage”. “If I was pushed to give advice”, he told us, “I would say ‘don’t stop moving’.”

So often, dancers dealing with the transition from a professional performance career can feel pressure to go in a certain direction, to find the perfect next career. Akram reflected on this – “it’s very important for dancers to be aware of the choice they make in what they do after a stage career, and I feel it has to be very organic. It’s making the most organic and right choice for you rather than the logical choice, which is sometimes pushed upon you from the way the world works.”

At DCD, we often encourage dancers to think about what else excites you, outside of dance? What gives you joy and energy? Broadening your horizons, pursuing a hobby outside of the studio, can help to deal with the challenges of career transition. “It’s very useful to have something over that timeline, that deadline, where you know that that’s the next journey that you want to step into – that is somehow helping me” Akram explained. “I’m interested in anthropology, in working with film. I’m looking into other areas, which in the past I didn’t because all that I cared about was my body. As I step away from the body I’m becoming more outward looking.


Hear more of Akram Khan’s reflections in this beautiful film, created by DCD supported dancer and now professional film maker Robert Gravenor:


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Photo credit: Jean-Louis Fernandez for Akram Khan Company