Dance impresario who is an icon has returned to an old classic and given it his unique stamp…
By Mamie Colfox
STAR choreographer Akram Khan’s new work ‘Jungle Book: Reimagined’ will be seen for the very first time in Leicester tomorrow (Saturday, April 2) – performed by Akram Khan Company (AKC) and based around the world-famous Rudyard Kipling story.
Choreographed by Khan himself, the dance-theatre show will be emerging writer Tariq Jordan’s debut work for the company and the production will be performed until next Saturday (April 9) at the Curve Theatre in Leicester and then in Birmingham – after which there will be an international tour, compromising, France, Spain, Korea and Portugal. (See listings below). Its official world premiere as listed by AKC is Thursday, April 7 at The Curve.
In many ways, this is something of a departure from his previous choreography projects – he is working from an original written script, it includes dialogue and there is also animation involved. In terms of its themes – anyone familiar with his work will recognise concern for the environment, our own dislocation and alienation from the natural world and the uncertainty and fragility of our existence, not just individually, but more widely too, as a species – that seems to have got its priorities muddled – or muddied – or both.
He said: “We are now living in unprecedented and uncertain times, not only for our species but for all species on this planet. And the root cause of this conundrum is because we have forgotten our connection to our home, our planet”
He continues: “And so I feel compelled to share the story – lovingly known as ‘The Jungle Book‘ – with children and adults from all cultures, in order to re-learn what we, as a species, have so conveniently forgotten”.
AKC posted a few photographs of the dancers during rehearsals with the caption “With the opening of #junglebookreimagined just days away (we couldn’t be more excited!), here’s another glimpse of our incredible dancers at work in rehearsals. We cannot wait for you to see the final results… @curve_leicester from Saturday.”
The story follows a family as they are ripped apart by the consequences of climate change, arriving in a deserted modern city where wild animals own the streets, and whom Mowgli befriends.
Khan’s reinvention sees Mowgli as a climate refugee and features original music, ten international dancers and state-of-the-art animation.
One of the most celebrated and respected international choreographers of our times, Khan is no stranger to the character of Mowgli.
At 10 years old, he played the character in Akademi’s Indian dance production ‘The Adventures of Mowgli’, and hopes to bring a new sense of urgency to his character second time around. Akademi is one of the longest-running Indian dance institutions in Britain and Khan himself worked as a teenager with celebrated theatre director Peter Brook.
Khan has been recognised for many productions, including ‘Xenos’, a solo show combining kathak and contemporary dance; a reworking of Karthika Nair’s award- winning book ‘Until the Lions’; and ‘Zero Degrees’, a collaboration with choreographer Sidi Larbi, sculptor Antony Gormley and composer Nitin Sawhney.
Mavin Khoo, creative associate & coach on this production talked briefly about Khan’s ‘Jungle Book: Reimagined‘ last year when AKC celebrated 21 years. (See link below).
Khan’s 2002 production of ‘Kaash’ comes to the Royal Festival Hall later this month as the curtain draws on the institution’s Shankar 100 celebrations which were postponed following the pandemic outbreak which derailed both the original show – scheduled for April 2020 to coincide with the great maestro’s 100th birth anniversary – and plans in 2021, only to be revived in March this year with a headline Anoushka Shankar special concert with guest contributors that included Nitin Sawhney, Dhani Harrison and iconic Jazz guitarist, John McLaughlin. (Review is here).
Akram Khan’s Jungle Book – Reimagined from April 2 to April 9, The Curve, Leicester Rutland Street Leicester LE1 1SB (Suitable for ages 8 and above)
More info/Book: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/jungle-book/
Birmingham – April 29 & 30 – The Hippodrome Theatre, Hurst Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB
Akram Khan Company (on tour internationally) : ‘Jungle Book – Reimagined’ https://www.akramkhancompany.net/productions/jungle-book-reimagined/
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