Nobody who works in this business on a regular basis would deny that some dance makers can be (say it quietly) a little bit pretentious! Or hugely pretentious come to think of it. All too often they will spend more time waxing lyrical about their work than actually working on their work. (the language is tortured as hell but get on with it! Ed!)
Akram Khan is a dance maker we, here in TheLab™, have largely avoided for a long time because, to be honest, we were not big fans of his stuff. There was too much conversation and not enough action for our tastes. You could see the potential but his creations never bore fruit.
Having viewed 'bahok, his company's collaboration with the National Ballet of China, that view is changing however. Not only is the piece full of striking movement, outstanding music and a narrative thread you can actually follow, it's actually funny, on purpose!
After the work was over we were forced to ask this question of some random people on the streets; "What the hell took him so long?"
Of course, many folks out there in wacky world of dance would disagree with us but people disagree with us all the time and sheer volume alone doesn't make them any less wrong!
'bahok' feels like the kind of dance making we should have been seeing all along from Mr Khan but he was just a bit scared of making his work (again, say it quietly) accessible! That is, accessible to people who don't care to read 500 page books on "dance theory" or work for the British Council.
All this time we've had a progressive hiding in the shadows and one trip to China, of all places, brings him out into the light and the people cheered and cheered loudly. Mr Khan, with 'bahok', is proving that he can get regular people excited about dance and that's something the dance world needs to nurture.
Welcome to the fun table in the room Mr Khan!
There is a very small chance we will be able to bring you some video of 'bahok' in the near future, in case you haven't seen it. In the meantime hit the link below for a flash version on the IDFB festival website!