One of the most widely celebrated and respected dance artists of the 21st century, Akram Khan MBE, is to be the new Chancellor of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The world-renowned artistic director and choreographer for the Akram Khan Company previously studied dance at DMU and was a recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university for services to the arts in 2004.
He has been a regular visitor to DMU over the years to meet, teach and inspire students through talks and workshops as well as offer prized placements with his esteemed company, based at Somerset House in London.
Now Akram will be returning to his alma mater in the role of Chancellor, to act as a figurehead and ambassador for DMU and a beacon of creativity for the university’s students.
He joins at an exciting time, as DMU embarks on delivering its strategy as The Empowering University.
Akram said: “I am honoured to serve as DMU’s Chancellor. My time at DMU provided the foundations on which I have built my career.
“Most importantly my study there taught me how to ask questions and that basis has informed my choreography and the exploration of world cultures in my work.
“I look forward to sharing my curiosity with the students and staff at DMU and being an advocate for the university in my Chancellorship.”
Chairman of the Board of Governors, Ian Squires, said: “The university is delighted to welcome Akram Khan as the new Chancellor of De Montfort University.
“When he founded the Akram Khan Company with his colleague Farooq Chaudhry they set out the boundaries that would help them form dynamic collaborations – not only between them but also with the best people working in the arts.
“Those parameters mirror the values we encourage our students to hold dear – ‘take risks, think big and daring and explore the unfamiliar’.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Katie Normington said: “On behalf of all our students, academics and professional services staff I welcome Akram and look forward to him taking up his role as Chancellor.
“His multi-cultural approach which brings together eastern and western artistic practices has been ground-breaking. I know that his role here will inspire our students now and in their future careers.”
Over the last 20 years Akram Khan has been a magnet to world-class artists from other cultures and disciplines.
His previous collaborators include the National Ballet of China, Academy Award-winning actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem CBE, choreographers/dancers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Israel Galván, pop icon Kylie Minogue, Brit Award-winning band Florence and the Machine, visual artists Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Tim Yip, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost.
Described by the Financial Times as an artist “who speaks tremendously of tremendous things”, a highlight of his career was the creation of a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony that was received with unanimous acclaim after being performed in front of an estimated global TV audience of 900 million.
Akram succeeds Baroness Doreen Lawrence who served as Chancellor at DMU for four years between 2016 and 2020. Baroness Lawrence has continued her association with DMU through the university’s Stephen Lawrence Research Centre.
Akram Khan Company is now undisputedly one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world.
The programmes range from the traditional kathak dance – which Akram first started mastering in his youth – to modern solo and ensemble productions.
The company has a major international presence and enjoys busy tours that reach out to many cultures across the globe. Akram Khan has been the recipient of numerous international dance awards, the most notable being an Olivier Award for his solo production DESH in 2012.
Photo credit: Lisa Stonehouse