Until the Lions


What defines gender? What makes us male or female? Is it the body? Could it be deeper, unnamed impulses that drive desire or expression—an inner calling? Or is it just external: an identity bracelet society hands out? How permanent and unchanging do these labels remain? And what part does Time, master sorcerer, play in our perceptions?

On the cusp of his fortieth year, keenly aware of the complex demands of the body across time, of the transition from power to endurance, Akram Khan turns his gaze on these questions through the prism of one of his best-loved epics from childhood: the Mahabharata.

Until the Lions* revisits the great epic, but through the eyes of a woman: Amba, who questions the definitions of manhood and womanhood, and challenges Time. Amba, a princess abducted on her wedding day by Bheeshma, regent of the neighbouring kingdom, and offered as bride to his brother. Though she regains liberty, Amba’s life is destroyed: she is rejected by her family, her betrothed—for having been won in battle by another man, later by her abductor, who refuses to redeem her honour; and all of society. Amba then invokes the gods...

Until the Lions looks at what happens when those society’s rules for each gender destroy rather than protect. What does a woman do when she loses ownership over her body, equated with her virtue? To what lengths can she go to regain control over her life, to gain justice? When the quest for justice swerves towards revenge, what price would the body have to pay? And what price would humanity have to pay?

* A partial adaptation of the book Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata by Karthika Naïr

Running time : 60 mins


  • 2018-01-19 00:00:00 2018-01-20 00:00:00 - Bonlieu, Scène Nationale Annecy, Annecy - France
  • 2018-04-04 00:00:00 2018-04-05 00:00:00 - La Coursive, scène nationale la Rochelle, La Rochelle - France


  • 2017-02-16 00:00:00 - Centre national de danse contemporaine d'Angers, Angers - France
  • 2017-02-07 00:00:00 2017-02-11 00:00:00 - TEAT Champ Fleuri, Sainte-Clotilde - Reunion Island
  • 2017-01-25 00:00:00 - Maison de la Culture d'Amiens, Amiens - France
  • 2017-01-20 00:00:00 2017-01-21 00:00:00 - Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Luxembourg - Luxembourg
  • 2016-06-23 00:00:00 2016-06-25 00:00:00 - Holland Festival, Amsterdam - The Netherlands
  • 2016-05-26 00:00:00 2016-05-27 00:00:00 - Brighton Festival, Brighton - UK
  • 2016-04-27 00:00:00 2016-04-30 00:00:00 - MC2:Grenoble, Grenoble - France
  • 2016-04-20 00:00:00 2016-04-23 00:00:00 - Movimentos, Wolfsburg - Germany
  • 2016-01-28 00:00:00 2016-01-29 00:00:00 - La Comete - scene nationale, Chalons-en-Champagne - France
  • 2016-01-09 00:00:00 2016-01-24 00:00:00 - Roundhouse, London - UK


Director/Choreographer/Performer : Akram Khan
Narrative Concept/Scenario/Text : Karthika Naïr
Visual Design : Tim Yip
Lighting Design : Michael Hulls
Original Music Score composed by Beautiful Noise (Vincenzo Lamagna) in collaboration with Sohini Alam, David Azurza, Yaron Engler, Akram Khan, Christine Joy Ritter
Dramaturg : Ruth Little
Assistant Director : Sasha Milavic Davies
Assistant Choreographer : Jose Agudo
Voice-over : Kathryn Hunter

Dancers : Akram Khan, Ching-Ying Chien, Christine Joy Ritter
Musicians : Sohini Alam, David Azurza, Yaron Engler, Vincenzo Lamagna

Producer : Farooq Chaudhry
Technical Director : Richard Fagan
Assistant Set Design & Technical Producer : Sander Loonen

Technical Coordinator : Peter Swikker
Stage Manager : Marek Pomocki
Lighting Engineer : Stéphane Déjours
Sound Engineer : Julien Deloison
Assistant to the Costume Designer & Costume Maker : Peggy Housset
Model head designed and made by Blind Summit
Project Manager and Tour Manager : Mashitah Omar

This production is a partial adaptation of Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, a retelling in verse of the Mahabharata by Karthika Naïr (HarperCollins India, 2015 & Arc Publications UK, 2016).

Production initiated by the 360° Network of round artistic venues across the world.
Produced during residency at Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester.
Co-produced byRoundhouse/Sadler’s Wells London, MC2: Grenoble, La Comète - Scène nationale de Châlons-en-Champagne, Théâtre de la Ville/La Villette Paris, Danse Danse/TOHU Montréal, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, New Vision Arts Festival Hong Kong, Taipei Performing Arts Center, Movimentos Festwochen der Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Brighton Festival 2016, Maison de la Culture d'Amiens, Concertgebouw Brugge, manège, scène nationale - reims, Holland Festival Amsterdam, Romaeuropa Festival, Curve Leicester.

Sponsored by COLAS.
Created with generous support from The Quercus Trust.
Supported by Arts Council England.
Akram Khan is an Associate Artist of Sadler's Wells London and Curve Leicester.