Akademi celebrates 40 years of innovation and diversity

5 Jun 2019

© Vipul Sangoi

The UK’s leading South Asian dance organisation celebrates 40 years of innovation and diversity with a year of celebratory events in major London venues. The anniversary celebrations mark the final year of the directorship of Mira Kaushik OBE

South Asian dance organisation Akademi marks its 40th anniversary with a series of celebratory events running from May 2019 to April 2020. Akademi embraces South Asian dance in all its forms – classical, contemporary, commercial and social – commissioning, creating and supporting it. Its work over the past 40 years is an expression of the UK’s increasingly diverse society. Now a truly British artform, South Asian dance is woven into the tapestry of our culture. Many artists who were presented by Akademi in the early days of their careers are now part of the cultural mainstream.

Founded by Tara Rajkumar, Akademi’s patrons and trustees have included Pandit Ravi Shankar, Dame Alicia Markova, Anish Kapoor and Anoushka Shankar. Over the years, it has presented hundreds of performances including large-scale productions at locations including the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, the Southbank Centre and more. Its recent dance theatre piece on World War I, The Troth, received international acclaim. For over three decades, Akademi has pioneered education and community projects, providing workshops for young people including those with special educational needs along with a health and wellbeing programme for older adults living with dementia and heart and lung diseases.

Akademi’s year of celebratory events includes performances, talks, workshops and competitions in some of the capital’s landmark venues. These have been envisioned by Akademi’s dynamic director Mira Kaushik OBE, working closely with producer Nina Head. November 2019 sees Kaushik’s departure after being at the helm for more than 30 transformative years, seeing it through the many changes in the cultural and political landscape in that time.

Kaushik says: “I have had three decades of illuminating adventures in the world of dance in the UK. My journey from being a cultural ambassador of South Asia to being at a place where South Asian dance is seen as an intrinsic and valued part of the British creative DNA is my greatest achievement. I am thrilled to have been a conduit for the UK’s thriving community of South Asian dancers, the majority of whom are based in London. There is still exciting work to do which will further professionalise the sector and I look forward to the next generation of leadership picking up the baton during this year’s celebratory anniversary programme.”