Born in London to Bangladeshi parents, Khan has over the past two decades become one of modern choreography’s finest observers of the migrant experience. With DESH (Bangladeshi for ‘homeland’) he turns the spotlight decisively on his own story and identity. Spanning continents and generations, DESH is beautiful, direct and grand in scope, a dance rich in comic flourishes and theatrical asides, underpinned throughout by Khan’s inimitable merging of traditional Indian kathak dance and the precise gestures of contemporary movement – fluid as water in one moment, taut and pronounced in the next.
Weaving his way across an enchanting landscape created by Oscar-winning Set Designer Tim Yip (production designer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Yeast Culture, Khan explores the Bangladesh of his childhood imaginings as breathtaking projections transport him to a chance encounter with an elephant or into a journey through the treetops and down the rivers of his father’s childhood. Orchestral strings swell alongside traditional Bangladeshi chants, as Khan shows us the complexity and untrammelled beauty of a country and people still divided and uncertain.
Playful and imaginative, intimate and deeply affecting, DESH is a masterwork from a performer at the peak of his powers, a wilfully magical reflection on the indelible ties of family and culture, and the elusive nature of the place we call home.
Presented by Melbourne Festival in association with Dumbo Feather.
Production images by Richard Haughton