Akram Khan asks ‘Why Do We Dance?’ as Sky Arts launch landmark documentary series for Spring 2019

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Sky Arts announces a major new documentary series for broadcast this April; an in-depth and up-close exploration of the motivations, provocations and stimulations that make the human race dance.

Curated and presented by acclaimed British choreographer and dancer Akram Khan, the 5x60-minute series launches to European viewers on World Dance Day (29th April 2019). Khan takes viewers on a global journey through the most dynamic, seductive and influential dance forms of our time, and profiles the artists redefining the artform for modern audiences. Crossing continents and decades, on dirt floors and dance floors, in public spaces and on the world’s great stages, Khan searches for answers to the question: Why do we dance?

Each film combines specially-staged performances with original contributions from some of the world’s leading choreographers, including Wayne McGregor CBE, Bill T. Jones, Taiwan’s Lin Hwai Min, Ballet Zurich’s Christian Spuck, Kenyan choreographer Fernando Anuang’a, Indian Kathak choreographer Aditi Mangaldas, ‘mother of contemporary African dance’ Senegalese-French artist Germaine Acogny, and the world-renowned Seville-based perforner Eva Yerbabuena.

Styles explored range from the dark world of Japanese Butoh to the sensual embrace of Argentine tango; the feminine power of India’s Bharatanatyam to ‘jookin’ – the street dance sensation from Memphis, USA brought to international acclaim via dance phenomenon Lil Buck.

  • To Belong – to feel part of something bigger, to find refuge and unityTo Tell Stories – from timeless love stories to origin myths, dance that tells a tale     
  • To Touch the Soul – how dance can allow us to find peace and enter altered states, raising our spirits. 
  • For Sex – dancing to make intimate connections, to attract a partner, to challenge sexual norms and to tease and shock. 
  • To Provoke – dance that questions and challenges convention, pushes boundaries and sheds light on socio-political issues.

Site-specific stagings of celebrated, ground-breaking works feature across the series, filmed from intimate 360-degree vantage points, to provide the viewer with an entirely new and exclusive view of the work.

The global scope of the films is notable, showcasing the work of choreographers from across Asia, the USA, Africa and Europe. The themes allow for a multi-disciplinary selection of dance styles, rarely seen in just one series, from the familiar to the uniquely niche. 

Philip Edgar-Jones, director of Sky Arts said: “Accessible, intelligent and inclusive, this epic series gives dance its long-overdue moment in the broadcast spotlight. By examining our different motivations for dancing these films capture its universal physical language. It will not only excite the serious dance enthusiast but connect with anyone who has ever found themselves moving to the music or marvelling at the moves of others."

Akram Khan
said:“This series is an epic undertaking - to seek out artists from across the world and gather not just their incredible choreography, but their different insights into the fundamental question of why we dance. It's wonderful to see dance explored like this on television, and to be able to work with Sky to create a program that will be viewed by audiences across Europe.

Ever since the concept of God existed, humans have been deconstructing God, and ever since technology existed, technology has been deconstructing the concept of humans. However, I strongly believe that dance has the ability to reconstruct and ask the question: 'What does it mean to be human?’. I believe this because dance is the most truthful way I have of expressing myself and so I hope this series connects with people in a direct and meaningful way as it does with me.”

Notes to Editors:
Why Do We Dance?
is produced by Sky Arts Production Hub, a commissioning and production centre of excellence dedicated to creating quality arts programmes for Sky’s 23 million customers across the UK and Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.

For more information, images or interview requests please contact:
Jenny Stewart | jenny@jstewartpr.com | 07885467181
Benjamin Ward | benjamin@benjward.com | 07837134193

About Sky Arts
Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated channel for the arts. It offers something for everyone, whatever their passion, with entertaining programmes showcasing the best of classical and popular music, theatre, opera, dance and the visual arts, as well as original drama and comedy. Sky Arts is broadcast 24 hours a day and has over 1,000 hours available on catch- up TV, including flagship programmes such as Portrait Artist of The Year, Landscape Artist of the Year and The South Bank Show.

The channel is committed to supporting the arts by investing in the best talent, both on and off screen, as well as through exclusive partnerships with major UK and European cultural institutions, including National Theatre Live, Tate and The British Library.

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