NAC Dance is thrilled to open its 2018/19 season on October 11th with the North American premiere of XENOS by British dancer and choreographer Akram Khan. Undoubtedly one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today, Akram’s much anticipated piece marks his last performance as a dancer in a full-length solo piece.

Akram is delighted to begin his North American tour in Ottawa, given his long history with the National Arts Centre. NAC Dance presented his first solo, Loose in Flight, back in November of 2001 and since then, has invited him and his company to return numerous times.   

For this work, Akram has brought together a stellar creative team including acclaimed Ottawa-born playwright Jordan Tannahill, dramaturg Ruth Little, set designer Mirella Weingarten, award-winning lighting designer Michael Hulls, costume designer Kimie Nakano, and composer Vincenzo Lamagna. “Out of all the creations I have been blessed to be involved in, XENOS is the one that I find to be the closest in line with my personal journey as an artist,” says Akram.

XENOS, which means ‘stranger’ or ‘foreigner’, relates the story of a shell-shocked Indian colonial soldier who fought in the First World War. The piece was commissioned by

14-18 NOW, a major cultural programme created to mark the centenary of the First World War in Great Britain. XENOS reveals the beauty and horror of the human condition in its portrait of an Indian dancer whose skilled body becomes an instrument of war.

Five international musicians will join Akram on stage: Nina Harries (double bass & vocals), Andrew Maddick (violin), B C Manjunath (percussions & konnakol), Tamar Osborn (baritone saxophone) and Aditya Prakash (vocals). Twenty minutes prior to show start, the audience will be treated to a classical Indian music concert.

XENOS is performed October 11th to the 13th at 7:30 p.m. in the Babs Asper Theatre.


Akram and his world-class team of collaborators draw in this new solo work on the archives of the 20th century, unearthing the experience of colonial soldiers in the First World War. Over 4 million non-white men were mobilized by the European and American armies during the conflict. Around 1.5 million of them were from India, mostly peasant-warriors from North and North-Western India, who fought and died in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In service to the myths of Empire, dislocated from their homelands and cultures, their stories have until recently remained in shadow. As Akram himself writes: “I will investigate specific questions that confront me more and more every day, like a shadow constantly following me, haunting me, whispering to me… Do we need to tell other people’s stories in case they vanish? Who are the ‘other’ people? Are stories of human journeys told, retold, and told again, so we can eventually learn from our mistakes? Who are ‘we’, a collective or many individuals? What makes us human? Are we still human?”


Akram Khan is one of the most celebrated and respected dance artists today. In just over 18 years he has created a body of work that has contributed significantly to the arts in the UK and abroad. His reputation has been built on the success of imaginative, highly accessible and relevant productions such as Until the Lions, Kaash, iTMOi (in the mind of igor), DESH, Vertical Road, Gnosis and zero degrees.

Khan has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career including the Laurence Olivier Award, the Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award), the prestigious ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) Distinguished Artist Award, the Fred and Adele Astaire Award, the Herald Archangel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival, the South Bank Sky Arts Award and six Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Khan was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2005. He is also an Honorary Graduate of University of London as well as Roehampton and De Montfort Universities, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.


Year after year, NAC Dance brings “A world of dance to Ottawa.” With artists from across the globe practising a broad range of dance styles and expressions, there’s no better place to appreciate this beautiful art form than at the NAC. Since the 2000-2001 season, NAC Dance has co-produced almost 80 works with dance companies from across the world, helping to bring their talent to national and international attention. Cathy Levy, Executive Producer since 2000, is proud to provide a home for this country’s most creative artists and to present an adventurous, international and national program featuring a broad spectrum of choreographers.