Curve and Khan reimagine Jungle Book in dance

Published: 20 March 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Ten-year-old Akram Khan in The Adventures of Mowgli in 1984 Credit: Alan Dilly from Akademi’s archives

The Akram Khan Company and Leicester's Curve theatre are to stage the world première of Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined, a “deeply personal interpretation” based on Rudyard Kipling’s story.

At the age of 10, Khan played Mowgli in Akademi's Indian dance production The Adventures of Mowgli. Decades later Khan wants to reunite with this story from another perspective and to embrace it with a new sense of urgency through the lens of today's children.

Khan and his team reimagine Mowgli’s journey through the eyes of a refugee caught in a world devastated by the impact of climate change.

He said, "The Jungle Book's story has always been close to me, not only because I inhabited the role of Mowgli in an Indian dance production as a young boy, but more because of the three deep lessons it held within it, that I have since carried with me all my life—the lessons of commonality between species, the binding interdependence between humans, animals and nature and a sense of family and our need to belong.

“We have forgotten our connection to our home, our planet. We all inhabit it, we all take from it and we all build on it but we have forgotten to return our respect for it. So I believe we must make changes from the grass roots up if we are to see a brighter future.

“I feel compelled to share The Jungle Book with children and adults from all cultures in order to re-learn what we as a species have so conveniently forgotten. And I believe that the strongest and deepest way to tell this story is through the magic of dance, music and theatre."

Directed and choreographed by Khan, Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined is written by Tariq Jordan, with dramaturgy by Sharon Clark and a music contribution by Anoushka Shankhar. It will be performed by an ensemble of 10 dancers. Film director Andy Serkis contributes his insight. Lighting is by Michael Hulls, visual stage design by Tom Scutt, animation by Naaman Azhari and projection by Yeast Culture.

Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined will run at Curve from Friday 2 until Friday 9 April.