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Students get creative with internationally renowned dance director Akram Khan

Two Dance students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been enjoying the experience of a lifetime with world-famous dancer Akram Khan.

Akram-dancers

Louisa (left) and Beth (right) with Akram Khan

Louisa Robey and Beth Storie have been working as interns alongside the Akram Khan Company during the development of a new production called ‘Until the Lions’ at Leicester’s Curve theatre.

Akram Khan MBE is no stranger to DMU, studying Contemporary Dance here before graduating and forming his own world-renowned choreography company, working with the likes of Kylie Minogue and Anish Kapoor. He famously performed during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

Over their four week placements, Louise and Beth have been helping with all stages of the development of the production, covering everything from choreography to backing music, as well as joining the rest of the company in morning yoga and body conditioning exercise classes.

They both feel the collective experiences are benefiting them greatly, both in terms of performance and their understanding of production.

Beth, who has just finished her first year at DMU, said: “We’re getting an insight into a how a professional company works, allowing us to see the progression through their process.

“We have been given a lot of responsibilities, more than I would have expected. It’s been great!”

The rarity of having the opportunity to work with such an established company is not lost on either Louisa or Beth - yet they still struggle to get their heads around the fact they are working with a man they were reading about in their textbooks just a few years ago.

“As he’s the first person you look at in A-Levels, it’s so surreal,” Louisa, from Preston, said. “It’s really interesting observing the choreographic processes involved and it’s amazing to see the things that we’ve been taught happening here.

“It’s really comforting seeing such a big company doing exactly what we’re learning.

“I love the course and I’m glad I came to DMU because of the balance there is between practical and theory.

“I feel I can go into a stable career with what I’m learning; it’s exciting knowing that there are sustainable careers available.”

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Akram Khan - picture by Laurent Ziegler

The prospects of said sustainable career will be significantly boosted for both dance students, the latest in a long line to work with the Akram Khan company thanks to DMU Dance’s course leader Jayne Stevens’ links to their eponymous founder.

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Louisa, who will be starting her third year in September, added: “It really will help us, just the name of the company will really help us stand out.

“In interviews I’ll be able to talk about everything we’ve done and what we’ve learned. Because he is such a world renowned artist, having the experience of working with him will be so invaluable; we’re so lucky.”

Beth, from Essex, said: “We have both loved every aspect of this opportunity and we genuinely feel so blessed to have been a part of this process with them.

“We hope to stay in touch with the contacts we have made during this internship and we feel excited to be going into our second and third year of study with all this knowledge, experience and insight into the dance industry.”

With the production of ‘Until the Lions’, which is based on the Indian classic ‘Mahabharata’, set to finish its rehearsals at Curve, it is due to premiere at The Roundhouse, London, in January.

Posted on Tuesday 11th August 2015

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