Stories about the “tribute to 7/7 victims” dance performance that was cut by NBC from the version of the Olympics Opening Ceremony that aired in the U.S. had already hit the web before Akram Khan even knew it happened.
Khan, an internationally acclaimed dancer who was recently the recipient of the Olivier Award, was commissioned by director Danny Boyle to choreograph and perform a moving number just before the athletes entered the stadium. Khan, 50 dancers and a 10-year-old boy performed a contemporary dance as the haunting voice of Emile Sandé sang the somber hymn “Abide With Me.”
Today, at a discussion led by BBC’s Alan Yentob, Khan, joined by his dance company’s producer Farooq Chaudhry, spoke of his vision behind the dance and the theme he and Boyle worked to create — mortality. He said the dancers were meant to symbolize spirits and the young boy was meant to symbolize “hope” and legacy.
“He said to me, ‘I would love you to do something about mortality. I want you to do it to end the artistic part and after that, the athletes will come in,'” Khan told reporters about his conversation with Boyle.
When a reporter asked Khan how he felt about NBC cutting the performance from the U.S. viewing, a surprised expression came across his face and he admitted it was the first he had heard of it.
He later said, “I don’t know why they cut it, but I feel disheartened and disappointed, really. Is it not accessible enough? Is it not commercial enough? If it’s for those reasons, than I am really, really disappointed. Maybe it’s too simple. Maybe it’s too empty… I don’t know why they did it.”
Chaudhry, who told reporters he had just found the performance was cut before the press conference began, said, “I was really shocked and horrified and would like to know on what grounds the American media can make that decision.”
NBC had not responded to multiple requests for comment at the time this story was published.
The media, though, had already begun reporting about the “7/7 tribute” that was cut by NBC, with one glaring error: Khan made no mention during the 90 minute discussion about the terror attack on London on July 7, 2005 that claimed 52 lives. It didn’t come up once. There is also no mention of it being a tribute in the official media guide of the opening ceremony.
The confusion seems to lie within a video tribute that showed pictures of victims and asked the crowd to pause for a moment of silence for “friends and family who could not be here tonight.” Khan’s performance began right after that, confusing viewers and reporters as to whether it was part of the tribute.
However, Khan’s failure to mention the dance being any kind of dedication would suggest that it was not part of the tribute. Nevertheless, NBC has yet to explain why it was cut.
There has been so much outrage over the cut performance, as well as many other moments that were hacked for American viewing, that the hashtag #NBCfail was trending on Twitter after the opening ceremony.