Sue Buckmaster is the Director of Chotto Desh and Chotto Xenos, and told us more about the creation of the two works.
In 2015 Akram Khan Company decided to do an experiment. They wanted to see if it would be possible to adapt one of Akram’s adult, solo pieces and turn it into a child-friendly performance and do a short tour. They asked me to re-imagine and direct this new production. Little did we know that what we were creating would become such a huge success, Chotto Desh!
Chotto Desh has reached thousands of children offering them a high quality and truly moving and inspiring experience. Akram’s narrative about how he made sense of his cultural heritage and became a dancer has offered a reflection space for young people to ponder on their own personal narratives, especially vital for those from a mixed cultural heritage themselves, which so many children are now. It gave children a taste of the delights of Akram’s choreography which was previously less available to them. We are now aware of the hunger they have for it and the inspirational impact it can have on them.
Chotto Desh has proved to be an exemplary model of good practice. It reveals how the time, resources, expertise and inspiration involved in making a highly acclaimed production for adults, like the original DESH, can be re-imagined to create high quality work for children and the adults who accompany them. We would now like to use this proven approach to re-imagine Akram’s show XENOS.
Aspects of the original XENOS will be interwoven with more child-friendly content to present a unique new production. Children today are exposed to images of war through social media and the concept of conflict as fun through video games. They deserve to have some creative reflection time to ponder on what it means to them, the lives of those they are close to and the world they will grow up in. They are also subjected to a rather limited education about the history of war, often neglecting a very necessary re-telling of the soldiers experience, where they are from and what they believe they are fighting for. Our future peace processes rely on us inspiring a younger generation to be more tolerant and understand the triggers for conflict and ways to manage it. This begins in the playground but unfortunately doesn’t end there.
Chotto Xenos will be able to benefit from the previous tour of Chotto Desh and continue important audience development. It will inspire positive understanding of the danger of war whilst being a beautiful engagement with the best that dance and music has to offer.
Akram Khan Company will be presenting the World Premiere of Chotto Xenos here at DanceEast this February – click here to book your tickets.
As part of our See, Make & Do activities this February half term, the company will also be hosting a free workshop for children aged 7-11 years – click here to book your place.