REVIEW: Akram Khan’s DESH

 Dance Ambassador Alex Speake reviews Akram Khan’s DESH at The Lowry on Thu 13 November.

Darkness and silence. As a theatre’s eyes are transfixed upon a single hovering lantern. Until it is set down to give way for our soloist to prize out their treasure from its unforgiving bed.

Desh 492 by Richard Haughton

An ominous start to Akram Khan’s ‘DESH’, a contemporary piece that is not to be viewed lightly, as it is a complex piece which skips and jumps from Khan’s own experiences, to his thoughts and views upon modern day living and culture, onto tales from a money-stricken Bangladesh that the audience can only assume have been spoken to him from a young age. But this is by no way a reason to miss the show, each designed and developed aspect worked so incredibly well with the others, allowing the audience to understand Khan’s presented ideas, and not to get sidetracked into the depth of these thoughts.

Jocelyn Pook’s composition and collation of music, singing and sound effects were an interesting mix yet, when teamed up with the set and performer, showed their full potential by showing an intricate correlation between the visual and audio effects. Due to this interact, I can only be left wondering wether the question of which was created first.

Tim Yip and Michael Hulls’ set and lighting design was a masterpiece, allowing the audience to succumb and experience every moment of the show.

Desh 278 med res by Richard Haughton

A particular favourite part if this piece, for me, was a portion within the modern day Khan told his young daughter a story of a poor Bangladeshi child. This fuse of narrative, physical theatre and illustration allowed each individual member of the audience to imagine the story through the eyes of Khan’s daughter.

In summary, Khan’s work bridges gaps between the audience and performer in detailed and delicate ways to explain his thoughts and views on him trying to find balance in the unstable world he is surrounded by. Expressive, powerful and sometimes humorous, ‘DESH’ is a piece that doesn’t end as you walk out of the theatre, it’s ideas and thoughts are rooted so deep within the culture of today that you are unable to stop debating them in your head.

There are still tickets available for tonight’s performance of DESH at The Lowry and remember Dance Ambassadors can get £5 tickets! All you need to do is quote YDA when booking online or by calling 0843 208 6010

Desh 381 med res by Richard Haughton samll

Review: The Five & the Prophecy of Prana

Emma Liu jumped at the chance to watch ‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana’ at The Lowry last night and was inspired by Boy Blue Entertainment.

Promising to feature ‘dazzling visual frames and a dynamic fusion of martial arts and hip-hop’, The Five and the Prophecy of Prana started off with a fast-paced opening act, the dancers wore intense hooded capes and the audience were treated to an impressive animated comic backdrop which set the tone for the entire show and raised high expectations at an early stage.

HG3_1868-660x440Battle Action Shot – ‘The Five & the Prophecy of Prana’

Set in modern Tokyo, ‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana’ is a narrative dance, based on 5 youngsters that are about to be sentenced to go to jail for different crimes. Until a master named Wang Tang, offers to train, discipline and teach them the foundations of martial arts in exchange for them going to jail. As time passes, the master and youngsters are drawn into a power struggle causing them to separate and battle, until they eventually realise that peace is what they aspire to most.

The show choreographed by Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, displayed mesmerising sections with intricate martial art movements and sharp hip-hop phrases which helped display how dynamic and versatile the cast were. The athleticism and strength of the dancers were inspiring as the power and sheer physicality of the movements certainly helped to portray the ‘ultimate goal’ storyline throughout, making it a believable and outstanding piece. I have to say one particular dancer for me stood out, Jeffrey Felicisimo who played master Wang Tang was remarkable. I particularly enjoyed the fierce Krump scenes which were very entertaining and made you want to cheer as the battles carried out! My favourite dance scenes overall though, has to be the electrifying unison sections featured in the second act, in which dancers performed complex marital art movements, tutting, b-boying, house dance, slow-mo battle scenes and acrobatics.

HG3_0237-660x440A fusion of hip-hop dance and martial arts – ‘The Five & the Prophecy of Prana’

Described as “cleverly conceived and entertaining”  the performance was unique and the narrative, special effects and concept fusion of the arts was admirable. Most scenes involved brilliant visuals including a manga Japanese comic backdrop. Dancers would step into the comic strip inself, transforming the stage into frames! The backdrop visuals certainly were very impressive, which at times felt like it was so engaging that it actually drew your attention away as you could feel your eyes peeling away from the dance to concentrate on the setting and surroundings.

HG3_1906-660x440A tutting and break dance action shot – ‘The Five & the Prophecy of Prana’

The show was composed by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and highlighted upbeat music in what I can only describe as a mixture of house, hip-hop, Chinese and Japanese music! It also contained over dubbing dialogue and Asian inspired themes which helped give it that authentic feel whilst adding just the right amount of comedy that would certainly appeal overall, to children and adults alike making it a fun family show.


Feel like watching ‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana?’  Don’t worry, you can still catch the final performance tonight! Don’t forget to use the promocode YDA!

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets max per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link The Five and the Prophecy of Prana Offer alternatively book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000.

The last performance of ‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana’ at The Lowry:
Wednesday 12th November – 7:30pm

Find out more about Boy Blue Entertainment

Love dancing? This is your chance to perform at The Lowry!

U.Dance NW is back! Showcase your talent at the largest youth dance festival in the region. From contemporary to hip-hop, dance of the African Diaspora and South Asian dance your group can perform in any style you wish! This is going to be an exciting jam-packed event at The Lowry!


Photo Credit: Brian Slater

Not only will you get to perform with your group in the professional Quays Theatre but you will also get the added opportunity to take part in all kinds of exciting dance workshops. In the past, youth dance groups worked with Phoenix Dance Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, BalletLorent and The Lowry Centre for Advanced Training in Dance.


Photo Credit: Brian Slater

Taking place on the 21st and 22nd March 2015, any group with dancers aged 11 to 19 years (disabled dancers aged up to 25 years) can apply. All your group needs to do for the first step is fill in an application form and return it to Northwest Dance by 5pm on Saturday 29th November.

After that only one more step is needed to complete your application! This involves submitting a video of your groups finished work and this needs to be handed in by 5pm on Saturday 24th January. From this, a panel of dance experts will have the very hard task of selecting the successful dance groups.


Photo Credit: Brian Slater

Want to get involved? Don’t forget to ask your dance leader! For more details and to download an application form go to NorthWest Dance. We look forward to meeting you!

Telephone: 0161 876 2018
Address: NorthWest Dance, The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ

£5 ticket offer for YDA’s

Another exciting season of varied and exciting dance performances is fast approaching at The Lowry and with the added opportunity for Youth Dance Ambassadors to grab £5 tickets offers on some particular shows nothing can stop you from getting involved!

Read on as we countdown the 5 performances coming up…

Number 1:‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana’ – By Boy Blue Entertainment

Boy Blue Entertainment is an award-winning hip-hop dance company founded in London by joint artistic directors and choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J Asante. Having grown up interested in Hong Kong Kung Fu films and Japanese manga comics they came up with the idea to form a new development expanding on their passion for martial arts and hip-hop in an electrifying celebration, eventually producing ‘The Five and the Prophecy of Prana’.

Creating a dynamic fusion of hip-hop and martial arts, this action-packed adventure features five young trouble makers drawn into a power struggle. Set in modern Toyko, the piece explores many elements of hip-hop dance including tutting, house, popping, locking and b-boying. We are even treated to fight scenes, acrobatics and dazzling visuals in an explosive tribute to Japan’s popular graphic Manga novel. This is definitely a rare treat and not to be missed!

YDA aged 11-25 can get their hands on the £5 ticket offers on both nights:
Tuesday 11th November – 7:30pm
Wednesday 12th November – 7:30pm

YDA can also go to the free post-show talk:
Tuesday 11th November

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets max per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link The Five and the Prophecy of Prana Offer alternatively book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000

Boy Blue main

Number 2:‘DESH’ – By Akram Khan

He’s of the most exciting choreographers working in the UK today! Akram Khan has teamed up with Oscar-winning visual artist Tim Yip from the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon film to create his most personal work to date – DESH (meaning ‘homeland’ in Bengali) the piece moves between Britain and Bangladesh as Khan weaves threads of memory, experience and myth into a surreal world of surprising connections as he tries to find his balance in an unstable world.

Both choreographed and performed by Akram Khan, he uses his early training in classic Indian Kathak and contemporary dance to deliver an inspiring, diverse and daring solo production. Akram Khan also received an Olivier Award in 2012 for DESH which has helped give his company, the ‘Akram Khan Company’ the major international presence it so rightly deserves as it reaches out to a wide range of cultures from across the globe.

YDA aged 11-25 can get their hands on the £5 ticket offers on both nights:
Thursday 13th November – 8:00pm
Friday 14th November – 8:00pm

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link DESH Offer alternatively you can book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000

desh main

Number 3:‘Rising’ – By Aakash Odedra

Looking into the theme of evolution, ‘Rising’ asks, – are we becoming more human over time, or more like animals? It explores the concept of time, space and rhythm in an exhilarating and fascinating performance. Performed by rising star of British South Asian Dance, Aakash Odedra is one of the most sought after dancers in the UK. Odedra choreographed the solos but it also features solos choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

The Askash Odedra Company is always growing in international reputation and is known for creating beautiful crafted dance works using a background in classical Indian Kathak and Bharatanatyam along with contemporary dance to speak to us through movement.

YDA aged 11-25 can get their hands on the £5 ticket offers on both nights:
Friday 28th November – 8:00pm
Saturday 29th November – 8:00pm

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link Rising Offer alternatively book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000

Aakash Rising main

Number 4:‘Of Land and Tongue’ – By Theo Clinkard

An incredible evening of eloquent dance in a visceral double bill that places the audience right at the heart of all the action!
Taking inspiration from memorable cliffs of his hometown, Clinkard joined by composer James Keane, creates a dance full of odd sensations, unnameable experiences and a build-up of untranslatable words from foreign cultures. The piece is said to be full of life, compelling and in some parts hilarious! Promising an night of exhilarating performance you truly cannot miss this!

YDA aged 11-25 can get their hands on the £5 ticket offers on both nights:
Sunday 16th November – 6:00pm
Sunday 20th November – 8:00pm

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link Of Land and Tongue Offer alternatively book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000

of land and tongue main

Number 5:‘Playing Another’ – By Candoco

We are treated to not one but two, new full company works by well-known visual artist Hetain Patel and acclaimed choreographer Thomas Hauert. The piece is said to be intimate yet playful and humorous that explores the dancer’s individual personalities and physicality’s looking at the fragility of the human condition. It questions identity by interrogating the dancers, twisting perceptions and pushes the audience to think beyond the surface appearances.

Candoco Dance Company is a contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. The company creates both national and international productions, work with world class choreographers as well as providing learning and development projects and activities for people participating in contemporary dance.

One things for sure if you watch ‘Playing Another’ you will be inspired by an exciting, daring, diverse and passionate cast that invites you to get up close and personal!

YDA aged 11-25 can get their hands on the £5 ticket offers on both nights:
Tuesday 2nd December – 8:00pm
Wednesday 3rd December – 8:00pm

You can also get involved in the free Post Show Talk (BSL interpreted):
Tuesday 2nd December

To access your £5 tickets offer (limited to 2 tickets per person) use the promotional code YDA and click on the link Playing Another Offer alternatively book your tickets over the phone by contacting the box office 08432086000


A Chance To Check Out Company Chameleon Rehearsals

With only a couple of days to go before the premiere of Company Chameleons exciting new piece ‘Beauty of The Beast’ eager Youth Dance Ambassador Johanna Hadley gets the exciting opportunity to check out the rehearsals. Read on as she shares her experience with us…


As we sneaked into a warm rehearsal studio, dancers dotted around the studio, seemingly all in their own world, were busy stretching or practicing sections of choreography. In one corner was Anthony Missen, Artistic Director and co-founder of Company Chameleon sat huddled around a laptop screen with composer, Miguel Marin. Short bursts of music played through the speakers, with Anthony and Miguel in deep discussion, before Anthony suddenly walked over to the front of the studio and commenced the next run-through of part of Beauty of the Beast.

A single dancer lay in the middle of the room, completely still and unmoving, as the almost haunting music began playing. Another dancer wandered into the middle of the studio, staring intensely at the person lay in front of him, before commencing in an emotional duet. Beauty of the Beast follows a group of male friends who are forced to question and reconsider just how far they will go to fit in, whilst exploring their own identity and behavior. I found myself completely captivated, and unable take my eyes off the performance – especially whilst watching the incredibly dark, yet athletic solo performed by Lee Clayden. The emotions and characters portrayed were very thorough, and never only surface-deep – every movement drew you into the story just that little bit more.


Despite only catching a small snippet of rehearsal, what I did see was captivating, and one can only imagine what the rest of the piece must be like.


Company Chameleon Beauty of the Beast premieres this Wednesday 22nd October.

After the Curtain Call: behind the scenes with Company Chameleon

Company Chameleon is Manchester’s only producing and touring dance company and they are the Lowry’s resident company.


Over the years the Youth Dance Ambassadors have had a really good working relationship with the company. One of the most memorable experiences was back in 2011 when they were rehearsing for “Gameshow” their current tour at the time.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater (2)

The YDA were fortunate enough to be granted access to a rehearsal so we could watch them putting the show together. We then got to have dinner with them and interview them. Over the years we have been granted access to a rehearsal each time they are creating a new piece which has been a great privilege.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater (5)

I always come away from the rehearsals with a smile. The dancers are all really friendly down to earth guys; they are so passionate about dance and the company which they have created. Every show they create is different and they continuously push their boundaries which makes them a very exciting company to go watch as you never know what they are going to come up with next.

COMPANY CHAMELEON in 'Beauty of the Beast' photo by Brian Slater

Beauty of The Beast is a story of hostility and about people deal when confronted with it. Once again Company Chameleon are pushing boundaries and Beauty of The Beast looks set to be the most exciting chapter in their story so far.

Abbie Williams Reviews Beauty and The Beast

New recruit to the Dance Ambassadors Abbie Williams (aged 11) writes about her experiences coming to see Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast


Wednesday 24th September, I was lucky enough to be invited to The Lowry  to watch Beauty and the Beast ballet being performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

As the audience took to their seats the lighting dimmed, the live orchestra began to play as the curtain opened, and the ballet began.

From start to finish the show was totally breath taking, and was full of excitement and graceful movement from the moment Belle took to the stage.

I was really impressed with the costumes the dancers were wearing, and if I had not been lucky enough to go backstage I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate just how delicate the costumes were. In fact one of the dancers explained how old and delicate the costumes were. Going backstage allowed us to get close to the props to see how detailed everything was. It gave me an insight to how a ballet is run by the company from the backstage runners to the performers and I highlighted how everyone had an important role to play. The show itself I enjoyed immensely I was enthralled by the stage set, lighting and sheer brilliance of the dancers. I would defiantly recommend the ballet and other productions by the Birmingham royal ballet to anyone.

Beauty and the Beast is at The Lowry until Sat 27 September: