By Royona Mitra
Via seven key case stories from Khan's oeuvre, this publication 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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Extra info for Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism
And come up with startling innovations, would be erroneous’ (Purkayastha 264–5). Thus, despite its pitfalls, hybridity, as championed by the many faces of British multiculturalism, is a helpful lens through which Khan’s new interculturalism can be conceptualised and understood. While Khan’s new interculturalism embraces British state multiculturalism’s call for mainstream integration through its embodied hybrid aesthetic and identity-politics-driven content, it also echoes Ted Cantle’s championing of interculturalism as both a departure Introduction 21 point from and a more progressive alternative to its failed precursor of multiculturalism.
24 Akram Khan 5. Where intercultural theatre projects have been predominantly mediated and consequently diluted through Western dramaturgical lenses for fear of exposing Western audiences to aesthetics and themes too unfamiliar and other, Khan’s aesthetic is unapologetic in its simultaneous use of multilingual soundscapes and South Asian classical codes of abhinaya alongside other familiar Western dramaturgical techniques. The effect of Khan’s mise en scène must be delineated from the mise en scène of cultural fusion in intercultural projects where cultural elements remained estranged from each other.
I remember when I saw Thriller, I was terrified. I’d never seen anything so frightening in my life, but it was also incredibly exciting. It had everything – music, storytelling, dance. (Ak. Khan qtd in Saner) Khan goes on to say that as a young boy he was bullied within his Bangladeshi community for his fascination with the effeminate discipline of dance. But once he began to render Jackson’s Thriller routines at local discos and started winning competitions he gained kudos. In retrospect Khan acknowledges his admiration for Jackson’s ability to marry popular culture and dance and proposes that this ‘changed everything’ by removing the stigma attached to the male dancing body (Ak.