Vertical Road is Akram Khan's latest contemporary ensemble work. Khan has assembled a cast of very special performers from across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. With a specially commissioned score by long-term collaborator composer, Nitin Sawhney, Vertical Road draws inspiration from the Sufi tradition and the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi. Exploring man's earthly nature, his rituals and the consequences of human actions, Vertical Road becomes a meditation on the journey from gravity to grace. 

'I died from minerality and became vegetable;
And from vegetativeness I died and became animal.
I died from animality and became man.
Then why fear disappearance through death?
Next time I shall die
Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels;
After that, soaring higher than angels —
What you cannot imagine,
I shall be that.' (Rumi) 

Artistic Director/Choreographer Akram Khan
Composer Nitin Sawhney
Lighting Designer Jesper Kongshaug
Costume Designer Kimie Nakano
Producer Farooq Chaudhry
Technical Director Fabiana Piccioli 

Set conceived by Akram Khan, Kimie Nakano, Jesper Kongshaug 

Material devised and performed by  
Eulalia Ayguade Farro,
Konstandina Efthymiadou,
Salah El Brogy
Ahmed Khemis
Yen-Ching Lin,
Andrej Petrovic
Elias Lazaridis,
Sung Hoon Kim

Dramaturge Ruth Little
Researcher Jess Gormley
Rehearsal Director Andrej Petrovic 
Technical Coordinator Richard Fagan 
Technicians Peter Swikker, Lucy Record
Tour Manager Arthur Laurent

Sponsored by COLAS
Co-produced by ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage), 
Curve Leicester, Sadler's Wells London, Theatre de la Ville Paris, 
National Arts Centre Ottawa, Mercat de les Flors Barcelona
Produced during residencies at Curve, Leicester and DanceEast, Ipswich
Supported by Arts Council England

Special thanks to Assis Carreiro, Paul Kerryson, Alistair Spalding, Béatrice Abeille Robin, Isadora Papadrakakis, Jayne Stevens, Su-Man Hsu, Paul Zivkovich, Young Jin Kim, Hua Fang Zhang, Nicola Monaco, Shanell Winlock, Mr and Mrs Khan, Ruth Barclay, Vicki Jacobs, Rachel Farrer, Tia-Monique Pilgrim and Ottilie Robin. 

“More and more, I am pulled reluctantly towards a strong horizontal current, which is a place where time is moving at such high velocity, that even our breath is forced to accelerate just in order for us humans to survive. And I have always believed, that it is in our slow exhalation, where the sense of this deep spiritual energy resides. In a world moving so fast, with the growth of technology and information, I am somehow inclined to move against this current, in search of what it might mean to be connected not just spiritually, but also vertically.“
Akram Khan 


„Fertile dance that touches the soul and lingers in the imagination.”
Eamonn Kelly | THE AUSTRALIAN | 22 October 2010

“Vertical Road is a riveting piece of dance.”
Jordan Beth Vincent | SYDNEY MORNING HERALD | 21 October 2010

“An evening of rare intelligence and artistry”
Gerald Dowler | FINANCIAL TIMES | 9 October 2010|✭✭✭✭ 

“A visceral evening of choreography” 
Sarah Compton | THE DAILY TELEGRAPH | 8 October 2010|✭✭✭✭ 

“Vertical Road's physical power is irresistible”
David Dougill | THE SUNDAY TIMES | 26 Sept 2010

“At once exquisite and thrilling.”
Luke Jennings | THE OBSERVER | 19 Sept 2010

“Khan's journey of reconnection is a harrowing, beautiful puzzle”
Judith Mackrell | THE GUARDIAN |18 Sept 2010|✭✭✭✭ 

“Hugely inspiring and profoundly disturbing, terrible and beautiful at the same time.”
Pat Ashworth | THE STAGE | 17 Sept 2010

Akram Khan Company
Founded in August 2000 by Choreographer Akram Khan and Producer Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company journeys across boundaries to create uncompromising artistic narratives. Having established itself as one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world, the company is renowned for its intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations and for challenging conventional ideas of traditional dance forms. The dance language in each production is rooted in Akram Khan's classical Kathak and modern dance training and continually evolves to communicate ideas that are intelligent, courageous and new. 

Akram Khan Company tours extensively both within the United Kingdom and internationally at leading international festival and venues, performing a diverse range of programmes including classical kathak solos, ensemble productions and artist-to-artist collaborations. The company has been awarded with several prestigious honours including the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance (2010, Gnosis), The Age Critics Award for Best New Work (2010, Vertical Road) at the Melbourne Festival and the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography in Dance Work (2007, zero degrees) at the Sydney Festival. 

WARNING: Strobe Light, Smoke, Loud Sound
Duration: approximately 70 minutes with no interval

Tour details 

Message from Hervé Le Bouc, Chairmanand 
CEO of COLAS, sponsor of Vertical Road 

I met Akram Khan before I had ever actually seen his work. In April 2009, my team set up a dinner appointment in London with the members of Akram's company to talk over the possibility of forming a partnership. Looking around me that evening, I realized that the people at our table came from a plethora of countries and cultures — England, France, India, Pakistan, the United States and Germany. Genuine multiplicity, a cross road of diversity.

During the meal, I watched Akram, and he watched me. The powerful yet timid expression in his eye, his simple gestures, even his very presence astounded me, and yet, I felt at ease. We both spoke of the paths we had taken, of our lives, and of the meaning, the value of the social link created by Roads. He explained to me the role of the human body as he sees it - a vector of communication, cultural memory and personal history. And, then, both of us began to see that our two worlds obviously shared the idea of forming links between people and peoples.

From the confrontation of our ideas on Diversity emerged a common image: the Vertical Road. Today, the management team at Colas, which does nearly half of its business in international markets, is still very French and very male-dominated. This is why'Diversity' is the theme that I have decided to focus on in our upcoming corporate communication and human resources campaigns.

What I mean by 'Diversity' is that of the human experience, and even more, of the desire to experience life. I do believe that the young, the old, women, the strong and the weak, will enjoy building a heterogeneous work environment, making them more efficient, keeping their minds stimulated. People will be able to draw on other strengths, pull away from obvious, well-travelled landmarks, dare to question certainties, let themselves be mesmerized by different faces and facets — leading them to unveil unknown sources of energy and discover the vertical road that resonates in each of us. That is also how this partnership came to be.