Akram Khan pp 52-70 | Cite as

Corporeal Gestures in Gnosis (2010)

  • Royona Mitra
Part of the New World Choreographies book series (NWC)


Gnosis in Greek means knowledge, particularly ‘knowledge from experience’:

The word Gnosis does not refer to knowledge that we are told or believe in. Gnosis is conscious, experiential knowledge, not merely intellectual or conceptual knowledge, belief, or theory. […] Personal experience is not transmissible in conceptual terms; a concept is merely an idea, and experience is far more than an idea. In other words, real Gnosis is an experience that defies conceptualization, belief, or any attempt to convey it. To understand it, one must experience it. (Gnostic Instructor)

This emphasis on knowledge derived from first-hand embodied experience rather than inherited intellect is a poignant echo of my framing of Khan’s new interculturalism as an interventionist aesthetic that is driven by his unique embodied realities, as detailed in the previous chapter. It is therefore not a coincidence that Gnosis (2010) is the title of Khan’s explorations of a minuscule and mostly disregarded aspect of the Indian epic of the Mahabharata: a mother-son relationship between Queen Gandhari and Prince Duryodhana. In emphasising the embodied nature of his exploration of both the epic and the theme of mother-son relationships, Gnosis distinguishes itself from Brook’s intellectual and dis-embodied treatment of the Mahabharata, and is thus exemplary of Khan’s new interculturalism.


Writerly Text Source Text Readerly Text Audience Member Indian Culture 
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Copyright information

© Royona Mitra 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royona Mitra
    • 1
  1. 1.Brunel University LondonUK

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