Dance Review: Akram Khan DESH @ Sadler’s Wells

If you want to be dazzled, touched and feel your heart swell a little give DESH a go. Choreographed and performed by Akram Khan, this new work sees Khan return to his father’s homeland in an attempt to connect a Michael Jackson loving English boy to his Bangladeshi roots.

Khan brings the choreography – contemporary dance punctuated with Kathak (South Asian dance technique) style hand gestures, footwork and spins – but these would be forgettable (despite beautiful) without Tim Yip’s visual design (Oscar winner for best art direction in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), animation by Yeast Culture, Jocelyn Pook’s music and Michael Hulls lighting (all-time dance lighting god). One man may be on stage but Khan’s collaborators allow him to conjure multiple imagined characters.

Film techniques and animation have been used in dance performances with varying success for the past few years, but lately, choreographers Hofesh Shechter, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Khan seem to have married the two art forms in blissful wedlock. Long may this marriage bloom as the visual effects are stunning. The end result here transports you to other worlds and alternate realities.

Whilst conceived from a very personal starting point the thing you leave DESH with is a desire to listen to your parents’ stories (be them from Norway, New Zealand or Norwich) and situate yourself happily in the big old melting pot of London.

Akram Khan Company – DESH is at Sadler’s Wells until 8 October. Tickets from £10

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