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Review: Akram Khan Company’s Chotto Desh

Muriel D'Souza, 26 Nov, 2018
    DanceHouse, in co-presentation with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and Théâtre la Seizième, recently organized the Vancouver premiere of Akram Khan Company’s award-winning solo, Chotto Desh at the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Revered UK choreographer Akram Khan and acclaimed children’s theatre Director Sue Buckmaster fused kathak, storytelling, mime, and interactive animation, to create a bewitching tale of a young man’s dreams and memories growing up in Britain and Bangladesh.
     
    Chotto Desh is the story of a son whose dreams are very different from the ones his father has seen for him. In reality, that’s not uncommon. But the way Akram Khan decided to share his side of life is what makes his story so strikingly special.
     
    Most kids have fond memories of visiting their parent’s hometowns; Akram’s memories are more like nightmares. Chotto Desh, meaning a tiny homeland in Bengali, refers to Bangladesh, his father’s native land and yet, Akram’s land of captivity. The 50-minute tale is the mini version of the artist’s autobiographical act, Desh, which he performed solo in 2011 after nearly a decade’s toil. Together with the mystique of visuals, sound and lights, the performance is a marvelous medley of dance, expressions, conversations and grace. Nicholas Ricchini, one of the two dancers whose act I had the opportunity to witness, seamlessly stepped into Akram’s shoes. He excelled in depicting the many faces he wore before the full house that cheered for him.
     
    Chotto Desh is an amalgamation of many stories. Even Akram’s father has the chance to take centre stage, not literally but artistically. I went home feeling good that I may not share my dreams with many, but I have my own way to be happy and make happy.
     
    Photo by Richard Haughton

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