If you’re not sure what this production is all about then worry not, we’re here to help. Until the Lions is a dance piece inspired by the book of the same name, by Karthika Nair. Through his stellar choreography Akram Khan has translated this tale of passion, revenge, gender politics and destiny.
Nair’s book itself was inspired by the lesser known characters in the ancient text of the Mahabharata (a Sanskrit epic, written by Vyasa). For his interpretation, Khan decided to focus on one of these characters – Amba. Amba is a princess who is abducted by the villainous Beeshma, during a ceremony where she is choosing her husband to be. Not a good idea. Amba then spends the rest of her life devoted to revenging this wrong. She ultimately burns herself to death (strong move) but is then reborn as Shikandi. Shikandi is a woman who is later given a genderless form by a forest spirit and – finally – defeats Beeshma on the battlefield!
Akram’s first major stage appearance was in Peter Brook’s production of the Mahabharata, when he was just 13 and this was a major first step in his dancing career. Not only this, but Akram was really drawn to the female plight of the heroine, because his mum was a huge influence on him and the pioneer behind him training in traditional Kathak dance, which features in a huge number of his shows.
So there you have it! A whistle stop tour of the story that has influenced the show and what inspired Akram Khan to transform it into a thrilling piece of contemporary dance. The next stop – seeing it for yourself…