Akram Khan’s ‘Until the Lions’ comes to L.A.

The Music Center in Los Angeles presents U.S. premiere of 'Until the Lions'The Music Center in Los Angeles recently announced that it will present the U.S. premiere of Akram Khan’s Until the Lions this month. This work is the retelling of an excerpt from the epic Sanskrit poem Mahabarata through a synthesis of kathak (the Indian classical dance form) and contemporary dance.


Part of the 15th season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, Until the Lions will be performed by the Akram Khan Company at The Culver Studios in Culver City, CA from October 18–21. This engagement marks the first time Dance at The Music Center will present a performance at a location outside of the performing arts organization’s downtown Los Angeles campus and its first-ever on a sound stage.


Until the Lions combines storytelling with emotional physicality and rugged choreography exploring gender identity, spirituality and passion. As award-winning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan’s only U.S. performance in 2017, Until the Lions will offer Angelenos a dance experience like no other in a setting that transports the audience to another time and place. 


A partial adaptation of poet Karthika Nair’s book Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, Until the Lions explores the notion and physical expression of gender with the tale of Princess Amba, who, after being abducted on her wedding day and stripped of her honor, invokes the gods to seek revenge. Audiences will be able to reimagine history through this primal tale of the strength and endurance of the female spirit. Set on a sound stage transformed into a performance space, Until the Lions will feature a mechanical stage that resembles a cross section of a 30-foot tree trunk. The stage will play a dramatic role in the performance, shifting and opening at key points in the storyline.


“Akram Khan’s Until the Lions will take Angelenos on an adventure that explores the universal themes of love and revenge through the beauty and intensity of dance,” said Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “The Music Center On Location™ is thrilled to offer audiences the chance to see this spellbinding production in a location created specifically for this performance, a space where the audience can suspend disbelief and travel to a time where mythical characters electrify the stage and dancers blend art and athleticism into one.”


Michael Solomon, vice president of presentations and education for The Music Center, said, “The lighting and ambience will set the mood for the evening as people enter the space, while the stage and stadium-style seating will allow them to feel like they are enveloped in the world of the Mahabharata.” 


Until the Lions brings together some of the artistic team behind Akram Khan’s multi-award winning solo work DESH, including writer Karthika Naïr, visual artist Tim Yip, lighting designer Michael Hulls and dramaturg Ruth Little. Noted by The Observer as “thrilling and beautiful,” the production features Khan dancing alongside two remarkable female dancers, Ching-Ying Chien and Christine Joy Ritter. Khan’s last L.A. appearance was in 2007. The Observer commented“Khan gives us theatre that satisfies our deep responsiveness to the mythic, while leaving no cloying aftertaste of sentimentality or kitsch.”


Khan’s work in Until the Lions will bring the choreographer and dancer full circle as he revisits pieces he performed in his youth while appearing in Peter Brook’s worldwide tour of the nine-hour version of the Mahabarata.


With The Music Center On Location, The Music Center curates and presents distinctive artistic content in locations outside its 22-acre campus, making it possible for an even wider audience to engage with its innovative, creative approach to the arts. Until the Lions is the second engagement in the Dance at the Music Center season, which launched with a co-presentation of The Red Shoes and will be followed by Malpaso Dance Company on December 1.


Tickets for Until the Lions performances at The Culver Studios start at $20 and are available online at www.musiccenter.org/lions; at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office at 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles; or by calling 213-972-0711.


Photo: Akram Khan’s Until the Lions. Photo by Jean-Louis Fernandez, courtesy of The Music Center.