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A single story unites everyone in Akram Khan’s Big Dance at Roehampton

Today marks International Dance Day, where dance is celebrated across the world. The Department of Dance students played a key role in the creation of the story for the choreography in Akram Khan’s Big Dance Pledge, the UK’s largest celebration of dance.

Posted: 29 April 2016

image for news story A single story unites everyone in Akram Khan’s Big Dance at Roehampton
Akram Khan's message states: "Thanks for going through this journey with me to create a story through the body, and I firmly believe, that 'stories' are what help us make sense of the world!"

Akram Khan, who holds an honorary degree from Roehampton, worked with the dance students to conceptualise and create the dance, bringing the story to life to share globally. Using the themes of ‘migration’, ‘overcoming adversity’ and ‘achievement’, the choreography puts aside people’s connections with digital media to celebrate an expressive connection through the ritual of dance. This ancient ritual spans all ages and brings people together from all cultures.

In this process, Akram’s purpose for the dance is to ‘go back to the body’. The dance also celebrates the human body’s connection to the physical world, rather than the technological world. He is encouraging all communities to take part in the Big Dance Pledge and interpret the intention of the movement in the choreography to develop their own version. In this way, the choreography enables people to tell their own stories through dance.

The music for the Big Dance, created by Nitin Sawhney, who also holds a Roehampton honorary degree, is called ‘Pilgrimage’. It captures the powerful narrative of the human struggle using epic, orchestral sounds to convey a journey and cinematic feel. 

Titilayo Adebayo, a third year BA dance student said: “This is about creating a community piece, giving it to the community and it brings us all together.”

Members of the community and the University are invited to join the Department of Dance students to take part in the Big Dance Worldwide Performance Day, which will take place on the University’s Froebel Lawn on the 20th of May. Rehearsals are taking place on campus each Tuesday and Thursday leading up to the event. On the day, participants from across the world will be performing at the same time live in the Big Dance.

The Big Dance connects individuals through one idea, celebrating the body and uniting cultures. Find out how to take part in the Big Dance Pledge 2016 at Roehampton. You can also see the video of the making of the Big Dance with interviews with the students.

The Department of Dance offers outstanding undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Students are encouraged to think about dance from different contemporary perspectives and understand how dance influences society.

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