Chotto Desh head

Chotto Desh


Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome


IN ANY production, there are elements that audiences think upon in order render it an exceptional experience.

Akram Khan’s biographical piece brings together wonderful theatrical entities to create a story that touches and uplifts every audience member.

It is a typical family show, adapted from Khan’s original solo piece entitled Desh and reaches out with its heart-felt story with a stunning backdrop and stunning talent from the solo performer.

Chotto Desh means small town and is the biographical story of Akram Khan, the artistic director of the company. In this beautifully stunning piece, Khan tells the story of growing up in London as a young boy, yearning to dance.

It is funny, hopeful and extremely inspiring in its delivery, but what makes Khan’s show so memorable takes place via the personal relationships shown between himself and his Bangladeshi father.

The piece is driven by one performer. Dancer Dennis Alamanos tells the story through Khan’s intricate and creative choreography. Alamanos plays Khan himself, portraying the part of a hopeful youngster with a hunger to dance.

He also portrays the role of Khan’s father, showing his Bangladeshi background and hardworking ethic. In Alamanos’ performance, we see the conflict between artistic creativity and the pressure of having a ‘real’ job.

The story is beautifully told and immediately easy to follow. At the beginning, we hear Khan’s mother and Father in a soothing voiceover, allowing the audience to see Khan’s reactions to their words. Khan then beautifully inhabits both worlds of the generations, showing what it is like in London and in Bangladesh.

The essence of the story shows Khan’s need as a child to have a somewhat unconventional career and the company reflect this in the cleverest of ways. In the middle of the piece, we see Alamanos as Khan think about what it must have been like for his father living in Bangladesh, and we are transported to this world.

Khan’s father is represented by Alamanos painting a face on his shaven head and leads to a beautiful sequence to represent the daily routine of Bangladeshi life. He dances as his head is bowed and the new mask is alluring and interesting. This convention, coupled with the most intricate movements is fantastically convincing and it is easy to think that he is a completely different performer.

Alamanos is a fantastic actor as well as dancer, which is the reason why we are so drawn to Khan’s touching story. His performance alone is enough to make the show perfectly enticing, but the company have added a beautiful secret that makes this show all the more spectacular. This is in the form of the most excellent visual design by Tim Yip.

Within the piece, we hear a childhood story told by his mother. It is set out using the intricate and awe-inspiring animated projection at the back of the space. The audience not only get a beautiful live performance from Alamandos’ wonderful dance, but his story comes alive against the backdrop of the stunning art.

The beautiful animation comes out of the blue and surprises the audience with its captivating story. It is visually remarkable, which raises the bar of the already stellar production.

Khan is a beautiful storyteller and with his company, they know exactly how to portray an uplifting and happy tale to audiences of every age and background. Alamandos captures the essence of Khan’s childlike wonder and portrays the authority of his father at the same time. Every element of the production is married together to create a beautiful and deeply personal story. The production is a treat for the eyes and talks to the soul. Khan and all involved should be honoured to be a part of a production that is a true delight for audiences.  To 30-01-16

Elizabeth Halpin



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