Australian Dance Reviews

Akram Khan Company – Bahok

Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.
October 16th & 17th

By Naarah Hallifax.

Having read the commentary by Akram Khan in the program I waited in anticipation to see the ‘new place’ he described…

Opening with an almost deafening humming sound we are confronted by a tableau of the dancers. Frozen in their positions, we find them waiting to travel at a place like an airport.  They appear very separate, different and reluctant to interact because of their completely different worlds.  A sign above scrolls through many letters before telling them to wait. The initial thought is that though they have different lives and experiences, they are waiting for the same thing – the instructions on how to proceed.

The dancing erupts with one individual and all observe, but then another is ignited. They begin as individual dancers in a spontaneous way, as if they are not just dancing, but revealing their souls within and their own personal expressions, unique to them.  It seems as if they are swept up in the moment and the freedom to express their individuality.  There are moments where the dancers all begin to move together, their individuality merging as they dance in unison with their eyes on each other.  Being thrown together in this waiting place they find common ground – expression through dance that supersedes the limitation of barriers.

Continuing on we start to get a glimpse of the individuals’ personalities. We are drawn into their own stories. There are so many moments to speak of, surreal moments showing the beautiful ways one can enhance another and the mayhem of misunderstanding and frustration.   A fusion of dance, written statements via the sign above, and spoken word in different languages; this performance was not about dance, as much as it was about humanity. Even so, the dancing was a feast of expression and it was refreshing to see such an eclectic mix of dance styles and drama.   The stories that came alive before us and the reality by which they had been crafted, allowed us to identify personally with the characters, making Bahok enjoyable for a varied audience, not just lovers of dance.

Artistic Director & Choreographer Akram Khan. Photo by Rankin

Artistic Director & Choreographer Akram Khan. Photo by Rankin

Bahok was a thorough representation of many aspects of people’s lives.  Poignant and genuine, both beautiful and comic, we as an audience had the luxury to spectate on others.  The ‘new place’ that Khan created involved looking past things that divide us, and understanding those things that unite us and draw us together. Bahok put all this on display, revealing the deep and primary aspects of people, leaving us with hope for a more united world.

The final moments were resounding and were met with a roaring crowd.   Akram Khan is a gifted individual with a wonderful view of humanity that he communicated effectively with the audience. 

For more information about performances at the Adelaide Festival Centre visit

Very top photo:Saju-Meng Ningning by Liu Yang

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