Book Reviews

‘As a dance scholar, I am particularly interested in the ways in which this text engages with dance studies. In line with other works within critical dance studies, Mitra’s text treats “the body as a site of political intervention” (xiii). For Mitra, as for other critical dance studies authors, the dance work is the text, the primary starting point for analysis and interpretation. The dance work is simultaneously aesthetic and political; indeed, much of Mitra’s intellectual labour focuses on demonstrating how the aesthetic created in these pieces is inherently political. Mitra, in keeping with the investments of dance studies, is clear about where this political aesthetic lies: on the level of physicalized expression (an echo of the kathak and abstract expressionist traditions that have influenced Khan), within contrasting movement languages, and in the conflicts between the codes and conventions of different artist genres.’

Review 1 by Professor Janet O’Shea in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal.

‘What makes this book essential reading is not just Mitra’s novel perspective on interculturalism, which upends practices of othering in Western intercultural theatre, but a nuanced appreciation of the way in which Khan draws on South Asian dramaturgical principles of abhinaya and rasa to reshape and rewrite Western aesthetics, ultimately to transform contemporary British dance from within. In this regard, Khan’s intercultural- ism is not simply a new performance aesthetic but, more importantly, an embodied postcolonial tactic that pierces the heart of Britain’s imperial legacy. This, in the final analysis, is the book’s most radical and lasting contribution.’

Review 2 by Dr Anusha Kedhar in New Theatre Quarterly Journal.

‘Mitra has to be credited not only for her detailed description of Khan’s “deployment of androgyny” but also for the minute descriptions of androgynous bodily movements layering a human figure with a horned beast. Illustrated with color plates, the book reports each performance through reviews, other textual sources, and discussion of the choreography of each dance, materials that are then enriched with Mitra’s interviews with Khan.’

Review 3 by Dr Mrunal Chavda in Asian Theatre Journal

‘Mitra makes complex theoretical connections highly accessible, and describes Khan’s art in a multilayered, non-linear way. Through her understanding of ‘interculturalism’ as embodied practice, she brings the discourse of postcolonial theatre studies close to dance studies.[…]. All in all, the book is to be read both as an introduction to post-structural dance studies and cultural studies, and as an example of a study of the oeuvre of a single artist.’

Review 4 by Prof Katharina Pewny in Theatre Research  International 

‘Her dance analysis shows a careful consideration of the moving body and its signifying powers, and her descriptive writing is fluid, articulate, and quite vivid. Alongside some of the striking colour photography, one feels well immersed in the intercultural world of Khan courtesy of Mitra’s skilful discursive rendering.’
Review 5 by Dr Melissa Blanco Borelli in Contemporary Theatre Review 
Akram Khan is a landmark book in dance, theater, and performance studies as well as for diaspora scholars engaging with the expressive arts. Mitra provocatively takes on commonplace descriptions of Khan’s choreography, such as “contemporary kathak” and argues persuasively why they are limiting, even misleading. […]  Mitra’s overall argument is original and persuasive, namely, that Khan’s innovative (even avant-garde) creative works are understood best via “a new interculturalism” that is both aesthetic and political […].’
Review 6 by Prof Ketu Katrak in Dance Research Journal