Exploring British-Bangladeshi Identity

Posted by Speakeasy News > Friday 22 September 2023 > What's On

Akram Khan's Chotto Desh blends dance, projections and theatre to explore the choreographer's British-Bangladeshi identity. You can catch new tour dates in October in Paris and Cherbourg.

Khan's work fuses classical Indian dance and stories with contemporary dance.

Chotto Desh means "little homeland" (Bangladesh is "the homeland of the Bengali people"). It is a child-friendly reworking of Desh, a Akram Khan  solo piece drawing on his own autobiography and ancestry, weaving together Bangladeshi and British myths. It is billed as a family production, but you don't have to be a kid, or even take any with you, to appreciate this masterful, magical solo. (No longer by Khan himself, at almost 50 he has retired from performing.)

When the Akram character has a problem with his phone, he phones the help hotline, which is a call centre in Bangladesh, and finds himself talking to a Bangladeshi teenager. This sparks off memories and questions about his dual identity that include conversations with his disapproving father (the face painted on the dancer’s shaved head) and a Bangladeshi folk tale told through projections of images inspired by traditional shadow puppets.

The original rehearsal director Amy Butler discusses the themes of the piece:

Akram Khan began his professional career at just 13, in Peter Brooks' mammoth production of the Indian epic The Mahabarata, which was nine hours long and toured the world for four years. The young Khan was trained in the classical Indian dance form Kathak, which means "story telling". But from the outset he was interested in other forms of dance too. He vividly describes going from being an introverted nobody at school into the most popular boy in the playground after a performing his version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". After the long tour of The Mahabarata, he went on to train in contemporary dance.

He co-founded the Akram Khan Company in 2000. As a choreographer, Khan has worked with artists as different as actress Juliette Binoche, pop singer Kylie Minogue, sculptor Anish Kapoor or prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem. He also choreographed part of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

You can download a background document about Chotto Desh from the Akram Khan Company site.

4-5 October 
Theatre de la Ville, Paris

12-14 October 
Le Trident, Cherbourg


Notion(s) culturelle(s) : "Rencontres avec d’autres cultures"