No sooner had Dance students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) walked across the stage to receive their graduation certificates than they were enjoying an audience with world-class choreographer Akram Khan.
Mr Khan, who was appointed Chancellor of DMU in 2022, is one of the most widely celebrated and respected dance artists of the 21st century.
He took time out between graduation ceremonies this week – held at Leicester’s Curve Theatre where Mr Khan has premiered some of his work - to meet and speak with DMU Dance graduates about their experiences and hopes for the future.
It was a thrill for the newly graduated students, many of whom had studied Mr Khan’s choreography from GCSE’s up to now.
Mr Khan acknowledged the importance of meeting with the Dance students at DMU saying: “This is an opportunity to bridge the gap between graduate and professional.
“There is a difference between the two – of course there is - but it is important to know that a professional is someone who started as a student and never gave up.”
Dance graduate Megan Biddle, from Solihull, said: “I had seen Akram Khan perform and studied his work for years - from GCSE’s onwards - but I had never actually spoken to him.
“I want to thank Akram for his contribution to dance and for creating a pathway for us to follow, thank him for challenging what society thinks of dance and allowing us to have a space to be ourselves so we can excel at what we are passionate about.”
Speaking about her course Megan said: “It was really tough joining during COVID but it actually united us we became a tighter community of students because of it.
“Our final year was a great ending to our time at DMU. It has prepared us all for the next step in our careers. I am really proud of myself and my fellow dancers.”
Luke Lamkin, from Herne Bay in Kent, said: “It is really exciting to be able to meet Akram Khan. I did not think I would get this chance. What an opportunity. It’s a bit crazy.
“There were so many opportunities at DMU. I was able to travel and study in upstate New York for a year thanks to DMU Global. That was the best decision I ever made, especially after coming out of COVID.
“It was great to be able to cross the stage today and pick up my degree. As Dance graduates we can all say how we have performed on stage in front of an audience and been calm as anything, but I was more nervous walking across that stage today. It was exciting but strange!”
Mathias Sperling graduated with a PhD in dance on the same day - a qualification based on 20 years of professional practice as an artist, choreographer and performer.
His work has been seen in venues such as Tate Modern, Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Opera House.
He said: “It is wonderful and hugely meaningful for Dance that Akram is the Chancellor of DMU. It is a fantastic thing.”
Posted on Thursday 14th September 2023