Oz Asia Festival 2019: Outwitting the Devil

What: Outwitting the Devil

Who: Akram Khan Company

Where: Dunstan Playhouse

When: 1st – 2nd November 

Outwitting the Devil is undeniably an unforgettable piece of dance theatre. The contemporary ballet choreographed by Akram Khan intimately retells the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, which is effectively the world’s first environmental poem. The strong and expressive choreography depicts Gilgamesh as an aged man reflecting on the violent early stage of his life, portrayed through the movements of six staggeringly talented dancers.

While marvelling at their passion and unity, the epic centres around the aged Gilgamesh. Khan says of featuring an older dancer in his work, ‘… I have awakened to a new way of dancing. And that is to dance my ideas through the bodies of others, including older dancers, who carry their histories and complex emotional experiences with them.’
Khan demonstrates his ability to direct world-class performance, with a serious number of accolades including working with the National Ballet of China and Florence and the Machine; and choreographing the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.

What makes this performance so phenomenal is the fusion of styles and the variety of capabilities of the dancers including: power, speed, fragility, delicacy, and agility. This immersive, multi-faceted dance transfixed the audience.

Another aspect of the production that was astounding was the sound, set and lighting design.
A large box on the stage suggests a table not dissimilar to The Last Supper, a tomb, and a meeting place. Surrounding the stage are fragments and remnants that suggest the ruins of human culture and the exploitation of the natural world.
The distinct use of sound including the use of harsh, disruptive noises such as wild animal noises and static, increased the suspense and often had a terrifying impact.

The hypnotic effect of movement in Outwitting the Devil often times made you lose the thread of the storyline, and merely become mesmerised by the physicality of the performers.
With only two performances in Adelaide for the Oz Asia Festival, and the last one tonight at 8PM, I can certainly testify that this impressive dance performance will leave you profoundly entranced.

5 out of 5 stars

Milly Farmer

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