DESH at Sadler’s Wells
Akram Khan’s DESH is a mesmerising exploration of his parent’s birthplace, Bangladesh, and what the country means to him personally. Performing at the beautiful Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Khan’s one-man contemporary dance piece is simply breathtaking.
Khan’s show is a deeply personal one. Together with his production team, the choreographer spent some time in Bangladesh, researching the country and finding his connection to it. Khan, who was born in Britain, admits that he never really associated with his Bangladeshi heritage and instead always identified himself as English much to the disappointment of his father. It was only really during the development of this performance that he discovered the extraordinary lives of the Bangladeshi people. A country that is constantly under threat from flooding and cyclones, its residents regularly struggle with the sheer force of nature. This is highlighted in Khan’s performance: he explores his own internal conflict with his heritage and the external conflict that the whole of mankind faces, accepting the absolute power of nature while trying to survive it.
DESH uses a superb blend of sound, lighting and multimedia effects to enhance Khan’s performance without overpowering it. His hypnotic dancing is the main focus throughout: the choreography is fast, sharp and strong, with a sense of urgency, as though Khan is desperate to tell this story. The energy and emotion that he brings to the performance is captivating. His movement is so personal that it seems to flow from him naturally and yet is executed with exact precision.
Visual director Tim Yip and composer Jocelyn Pock have created a stunning world for Khan to perform in. The stark contrasts between light and dark, silence and noise, and fast and still moments create a dramatic and exciting atmosphere. Even the tone of the performance is juxtaposed: Khan flows from poignant and intense to funny and creative with perfect ease. While the piece is highly emotional, it is broken up by the perfect amount of humour and fun.
This performance is exciting, thought-provoking and incredibly moving. Khan has created a truly exhilarating theatrical experience that is not to be missed.
DESH is at Sadler’s Wells until 15th June 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the official trailer for DESH here: