Behind the curtain experience for students with world-famous choreographer

 Dance students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) received a first-class experience behind the scenes of world-renowned choreographer Akram Khan’s latest production at Leicester’s Curve Theatre.

Akram's brand new dance- theatre production ‘The Jungle Book- Reimagined’, based on the family classic by Rudyard Kipling premiered earlier this month with staff and students from the university invited along to experience a live tech rehearsal just days before the curtains lifted.

During a question and answer session following the rehearsal, the new DMU Chancellor spoke openly about his experiences, giving students valuable industry insights from one of the best in the business.


(Photo credit: Ambra Vernuccio)

First year Dance Student Emily Morgan who aspires to become a choreographer and perform professionally in the future found the whole experience from rehearsal to the main show "incredible".

She said: “It was really interesting to see how a professional company works. It was so fast paced and to see them still develop it even they were premiering two days later was amazing.

 “It helped give me more prospective on how they process works. I saw everything in a whole new light. From the rehearsal to the show I could see the changes that had been made it was all very surreal."

She added: “The biggest takeaway for me is a bigger respect for professional choreographers and professional dancers in a whole new sense, I know that you have to be adaptable, but this was a whole new level of adaptability.

 “They make changes to routines in the morning and by that evening they are performing them, it’s an incredible level of confidence.

“Akram was amazing too, to give time up to deliver a face-to-face lecture to us in premiere week and give us the opportunity to ask him questions was a fantastic experience.”


(Photo credit: Ambra Vernuccio)

Macey Oldershaw, also a first-year Dance student, said: “It was very much an eye- opening experience which delved into the detailed explanation and insight into company rehearsals and their dancers- their working process and how this relates to the process of creation of various pieces.

“I found that the way Akram spoke about his relationship with his dancers very honest and he opened up explaining how his training relates to how he coaches his dancers and the way he adapts to them.

“For me an intriguing element of this was how he often uses personal experiences to aid the performance of the dancers to make the process close to them and for this to radiate through their movement.”

She added: “Their working process never stops- and even during the premier he is still making changes and small adaptations to the movement.

“The dancers were constantly on the ball, thinking about their practice and how they can best conduct themselves to follow as closely as possible to Akram’s expectations and visualisations.”


(Photo credit: Ambra Vernuccio)

Melanie Knott, Lecturer in Community Dance Practice at DMU, described the experience as “valuable and insightful” for students.

She said: “It was a great experience for students to see Akram leading from the front. They know him as a choreographer from their studies but in that moment in the rehearsal they saw him being a director.

“He was directing all elements of the rehearsal rather than just the choreography, which was a very new experience for the students and a great learning experience to observe.”

She added: “To see something on that scale even though you are studying dance, seeing all the elements involved was a valuable lesson to all the students involved and we can’t thank Akram enough.”

Posted on Tuesday 26 April 2022

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