By Vera Afdjei
LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's most celebrated dancer-choreographers, Akram Khan, is tackling the rise of xenophobia in his latest work, which he says will be his last as a leading performer.
The production, "Xenos", is Khan's tribute to the Indian soldiers of the British Empire who fought in World War One. It focuses on the story of a shell-shocked Indian soldier, but also tackles contemporary political issues.
"Xenos means a foreigner or alien or stranger in Greek, i.e. xenophobia, and it just seems apt and relevant to my reflection of the world today and how xenophobia is growing," he told Reuters.
Khan, 43, will dance a segment from "Xenos" at the opening night of the Darbar Festival, an annual festival of classical Indian music, on Thursday in London.
Following its full premiere next year in Athens, Xenos will tour Australia, North America, and Europe, with a staging at Sadler's Wells theater in London in 2018.
Born in London to Bangladeshi parents, Khan was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to dance. His style is a hybrid of Indian classical, traditional Indian kathak and contemporary dance.
Khan says he is going to step down from dancing in full-length productions as a lead, but will still dance smaller roles. Besides wanting a respite from physical demands of dancing, he wants to focus on other areas.
"I want to focus more on choreography. I'm working a lot on film. I'm fascinated by film and that medium and what movement, how you can tell stories through the camera," he says.
"There just came a time where I felt: 'OK, enough is enough'. You know, I'll keep training but not to the severity or the intensity that I do to prepare myself for a full-length solo."
(Writing by Vera Afdjei; Editing by Mark Hanrahan and Alison Williams)