On 28 September, 2023 at the Teatro Argentina and as part of the Romaeuropa Festival, Jungle Book Reimagined was staged with choreography by Akram Khan, an Anglo-Bangladesh visionary with a highly trans-disciplinary approach.
In the artist’s urgency to speak to the audience about uncertain times and climate change Akram Kam speaks through Ruyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a literary classic recognised by the collective culture and dear to his personal history. The journey of Mowgli, here in the guise of a little girl, is diverted to modern times and to a place populated only by ferocious animals, where she lands, the only survivor, because of a storm, a consequence of climatic devastation. Having overcome their initial mistrust, the animals offer protection to little Mowgli, recognising her as a possible source of salvation and a guide to procuring food.
The choreography, the peculiarity of the dances, between modernity and Indian tradition (kathak), the movement of the bodies of the dancers who make the animal movements their own, the minimal and ecological scenography (made with cardboard boxes), the animation made with manual drawings projected on two transparent screens, build a magical world that, together with the touching soundtrack, returns the fable (conceived as pedagogical) to modern times in a reinterpretation that addresses the new generations and a wide audience that leaves the show emotionally touched.
“Kipling’s original narrative,” says Gaia Clotilde Chernetich in her critical text, “lives, like any myth, outside of time, while Akram Khan, flanked by playwright Sharon Clark and writer Tariq Jordan, signs a show for this time in which dance, music and theatre cooperate to create a fantastic atmosphere where animals have anthropomorphic bodies and human voices”.
The geographies of Mowgli intersect with the origins of the dancer and choreographer, with the universality of the myth of this tale that has crossed worlds and times to reach us today through a choreography of bodies, objects, animation and music and all the authors who have created its individual components.
images (all): Akram Kan, Jungle Book Reimagined, Romaeuropa Festival, 2023