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Choreographer Akram Khan joins forces with dance department students

Highly respected choreographer Akram Khan has been commissioned to make a new dance which will be performed around the world – and students from Roehampton’s Department of Dance are playing a vital role in its creation.

Posted: 5 November 2015

Mr Khan, who holds an honorary degree from Roehampton is leading the 10th Big Dance – the UK’s biggest celebration of dancing, which is organised by People Dancing and the Mayor of London. He is designing a piece based on ‘overcoming adversity’ and will work with more than 50 Roehampton students to conceptualise, choreograph and bring it to life during the next two months.

Mr Khan is working with the students in the University’s modern and extensive dance studios this week. The dance he creates will be shared online in January 2016, and will be available for any dance community to download and learn. These groups will then be asked to perform at the same time on 20 May 2016 as part of the Big Dance Pledge. In July, the students will lead a Big Dance performance in Trafalgar Square to fire Londoners’ imaginations through dancing.

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Dr Ann David, Head of the Department of Dance said: “Akram Khan is one of the most renowned choreographers of his generation, so we’re pleased to give our students the chance to work with him and experience the process an expert goes through in creating a high profile performance.

“Being able to work alongside dance professionals to study their methods and processes, and to understand how they think and have become successful is one of the reasons our students are so successful in their degrees and subsequent careers.”

Roehampton places emphasis on educating students to work professionally in a number of arts-related roles after graduation as well as including high quality practical dance training within its curriculum.

Second year Dance Studies student Laura Whitlock, one of the group working with Akram Khan said: “It’s a really great opportunity to experience a real professional at work, I’ve never worked with a professional dancer like Akram before.”

Mallai Simpson, on the same course as Laura, added: “It has been really intensive but Akram has treated us like professionals and working with him gives us an insight into dancing in that way. We’re working to the schedule of a professional dancer, so it’s great preparation for our futures. Akram Khan is one of the biggest choreographers in the UK and we are working with him and creating a dance with him. I’m really pleased he chose Roehampton’s Dance department.”

Mr Khan’s work is recognised around the world for its collaboration and reflection of combined cultural influences and includes his memorable impact on the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. He has also worked with Juliette Binoche, Sylvie Guillem, Hanif Kureishi, Kylie Minogue and Anish Kapoor.

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