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Until the Lions: Amba’s story

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Amba is a relatively minor character in the Sanskit epic the Mahābhārata. Her story is of a woman, spurned by men, who seeks justice and retribution by engaging in extreme spiritual practices that lead to the intervention of the Hindu deities and her re-birth as a male warrior capable of exacting revenge. In 2016 Amba’s story was re-imagined in poetry by Karthika Nair and in a dance performance by Akram Khan. The title of both works, Until the Lions, is taken from an Igbo proverb, ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter’ and encapsulates both artists’ interest in alternative, especially female, perspectives. This article demonstrates how Khan’s Until the Lions embodies tensions and ambiguities at the heart of which is a profound concern with spirituality and gender. In particular it argues that Until the Lions explores the impact of śakti (divine feminine energy) on female/male relationships and on the environment.
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Keywords: Akram Khan; Goddess; Hindu spirituality; Mahābhārata; divinity; gender

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: De Montfort University

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • Research into spirituality receives comparatively little attention in western dance practices but Dance, Movement & Spiritualities provides a platform for those practitioners and researchers who are actively and creatively working with spirituality at the centre of their practice/research. Contributions are invited from across disciplines.
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