Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival Review: Jungle Book Reimagined

Defies dance conventions, whilst pushing the art-form to new heights

Defies dance conventions, whilst pushing the art-form to new heights

Presented by: Akram Khan Company 

Reviewed: 16 March, 2024

Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories entitled The Jungle Book, has been beloved by children and adults alike for over a century. They tell the stories of Mowgli the little boy who is raised by wolves, and whose best friends are a bear and a panther. 

World-renowned dancer and choreographer Akram Khan has brought his genius to this tale, with a reimagining set in a post-apocalyptic world. Mowgli is a young girl washed up on the shore, and adopted by the animals. Working with writer Tariq Jordan, and dramaturg Sharon Clark, Khan has choreographed a work of profound genius. 

Jungle Book reimagined is a cinematic experience. A transparent scrim down-stage delivers projected animations which add depth, beauty, and charm. Pre-recorded voices deliver dialogue for the dancers’ characters: an effect that could have been “tricksy” but instead helps lift this production from brilliant to sublime. Simple set-design and costuming fit perfectly. The combination of dance, dialogue, and animation delivers a production which defies dance conventions, whilst pushing the art-form to new heights. 

A troupe of only twelve dancers, in the hands of master-choreographer Khan, takes on the energy and space of a much larger ensemble. Maya Balam Meyong, Tom Davis-Dunn, Hector Ferrer, Harry Theadora Foster, Filippo Franzese, Bianca Mikahil, Max Revell, Matthew Sandiford, Elpida Skourou, Holly Vallis, Jan Mikaela Villanueva, Lani Yamanaka, delivered work that, like the show as a whole, defies categorization: dance, movement, characterization, mime. The animalistic movements must surely have come from hours of watching hours of film of these creatures. In particular, Bagheera the panther was so authentically invoked that you could completely forget that this is a human dancer. 

Jungle Book reimagined is truly breathtaking, awe inspiring, moving, and ultimately uplifting. Theatrical experiences of this standard come along rarely, and we are incredibly lucky here in Adelaide to witness this genius. Opening night’s standing ovation attested to that. 

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten

Photo credit: Camilla Greenwell

Venue:  Adelaide Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season:  ended

More News

To Top