the danger of war

In 2015 Akram Khan Company decided to do an experiment. They wanted to see if it would be possible to adapt one of Akram’s adult, solo pieces and turn it into a child-friendly performance and do a short tour. They asked me to re-imagine and direct this new production. Little did we know that what we were creating would become such a huge success, Chotto Desh!

Chotto Desh has reached thousands of children offering them a high quality and truly moving and inspiring experience. Akram’s narrative about how he made sense of his cultural heritage and became a dancer has offered a reflection space for young people to ponder on their own personal narratives, especially vital for those from a mixed cultural heritage themselves, which so many children are now. It gave children a taste of the delights of Akram’s choreography which was previously less available to them. We are now aware of the hunger they have for it and the inspirational impact it can have on them.
Chotto Desh has proved to be an exemplary model of good practice. It reveals how the time, resources, expertise and inspiration involved in making a highly acclaimed production for adults, like the original DESH, can be re-imagined to create high quality work for children and the adults who accompany them. We would now like to use this proven approach to re-imagine Akram’s show XENOS.

Aspects of the original XENOS will be interwoven with more child-friendly content to present a unique new production. Children today are exposed to images of war through social media and the concept of conflict as fun through video games. They deserve to have some creative reflection time to ponder on what it means to them, the lives of those they are close to and the world they will grow up in. They are also subjected to a rather limited education about the history of war, often neglecting a very necessary re-telling of the soldiers experience, where they are from and what they believe they are fighting for. Our future peace processes rely on us inspiring a younger generation to be more tolerant and understand the triggers for conflict and ways to manage it. This begins in the playground but unfortunately doesn’t end there.

Chotto Xenos will be able to benefit from the previous tour of Chotto Desh and continue important audience development. It will inspire positive understanding of the danger of war whilst being a beautiful engagement with the best that dance and music has to offer.


“A triumph of energy, empathy and intelligence.”
The Telegraph ★★★★★

“A blaze of glory. Khan’s striking, beautiful lament is an extraordinary way to wind down a solo dance career.”
Time Out ★★★★★

“A work of incredible potency, of emotional and cultural depth that sings and surges with the confidence of an artist at the peak of his powers.”
The Stage ★★★★★

‘A visually arresting experience on a scale so grand that, at times, you don’t believe your eyes. And, at its heart, a sobering exploration of the human experience of war and its ripple-like effects on humanity.’
Limelight, Australia



XENOS Artistic Direction and Original Choreography Akram Khan
Chotto Xenos Direction and Adaptation Sue Buckmaster (Theatre-Rites)
Set Design Ingrid Hu
Lighting Design Guy Hoare
Original Music Domenico Angarano, inspired by Vincenzo Lamagna’s score for XENOS
Sound Design Domenico Angarano & Phil Wood
Costume Design Kimie Nakano
Film & Projection Design Lucy Cash
Assistant Choreographer Nicola Monaco
Rehearsal Directors Nicolas Ricchini & Amy Butler
Dancer Guilhem Chatir or Kennedy Junior Muntanga
Producer Clare Cody-Richardson
Technical Manager Tina Fagan
Production Manager Richard Fagan
Sound Engineer Matthew Armstrong
Lighting Technician Lars Davidson
Stage Manager Marek Pomocki
Project & Tour Manager Mashitah Omar & Mai Tassinari
Digital animation & motion graphics Laurie Hill
Props made by Louise Edge from LFX props & special fx
Puppets made by Naomi Oppenheim

Music recorded with Stefano Ancora, Domenico Angarano, James Browne, Nina Harries, Joost Hendrickx, Matt Holborn, Arran Kent, Stefan Knapik, Vincenzo Lamagna, Andrew Maddick, B C Manjunath, Tamar Osborn, Aditya Prakash, Clarice Rarity, Ciro Riccardi

In order of their first appearance, the archive images used in the Chotto Xenos projection are copyright of: National Portrait Gallery, London (image 3), ECPAD/collection Mick Micheyl – Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud / Photographe: Jean-Baptiste TOURNASSOUD (images 4, 5 & 6), MOREAU Albert/ECPAD/Défense (image 8), CORDIER/ECPAD/Défense (image 9), IWM (images 12 & 31). All other images are out of copyright.
We gratefully acknowledge the artists, collaborators and co-producers who contributed to the original production of XENOS by Akram Khan Company.

Co-produced by DanceEast Ipswich, The Point Eastleigh, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, Théâtre de la Ville – Paris
Created with the support of Capital Group

Chotto Xenos and XENOS are both commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, and the Department for Digital,Culture, Media and Sport
Supported by Arts Council England

Special thanks to Nigel Hinds, Jenny Waldman, Sarah Goodfellow, Liz Robertson, Tania Wilmer, Ashlie Nelson, Sacha Lee, Elizabeth Wolton, Susannah Burke, Brendan Keaney, Helen Dawson, Ole Birkeland, Ruth Little, Emma Bellerby, students and teachers of Canon Barnett Primary School and Elmhurst Primary School, Di’mond Sharma-Joseph, Nathan White.