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Akram Khan: ‘Don’t have more female choreographers for the sake of it’

Akram Khan. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Akram Khan has responded to concerns from within the dance sector about the lack of female choreographers, saying numbers should not be increased for the sake of it.

The contemporary choreographer’s comments come after claims that women are offered fewer opportunities to progress [1], particularly in creating work for large-scale venues.

Khan described the issue as a “big topic”, but said that ratio of female to male choreographers fluctuates at different times.

“It is important to recognise that there is an imbalance, but there was an imbalance before for male choreographers. Pina Bausch, Martha Graham – the godmothers of contemporary dance – they were the big figures before, but for this generation it is slightly different, it has slightly shifted,” he told The Stage.

He added: “We should be aware of it and see what is going wrong, but at the same time I don’t want to say we should have more female choreographers for the sake of having more female choreographers.”

Khan was speaking ahead of the premiere of his new work, Until the Lions, which is running at the Roundhouse in north London.

He went on to describe contemporary dance training in the UK as “watered down” in comparison to foreign institutions, echoing criticisms he made in 2015 [2] about the quality of British training.

“It’s not just about accessibility, it’s about the format of the training. I feel like it’s watered down. I was just personally missing dancers who were physically and technically supercharged, trained dancers,” he added.