Akram Khan Company

Jungle Book reimagined

2023-10-19 20:00 2023-10-21 22:10 60 Canada/Eastern 🎟 NAC: Akram Khan Company


In-person event

A journey to reimagine a new world together. Running time
Act 1: 56 minutes
Intermission: 20 minutes
Act 2: 47 minutes Driven by a sense of urgency, Akram Khan’s Jungle Book reimagined is a new work based on Rudyard Kipling’s beloved story and set against the backdrop of humankind’s profound threat to nature. Akram and his team have reframed Mowgli’s journey through the eyes of a refugee caught in a world devastated by the impact of climate...

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Southam Hall,1 Elgin Street,Ottawa,Canada
October 19 - 21, 2023

≈ 2 hours and 10 minutes · With intermission

Our programs have gone digital.

Scan the QR code at the venue's entrance to read the program notes before the show begins.

Last updated: October 20, 2023

A Note From The Executive Producer, NAC Dance

Dear audience,

It is so good to see both new and familiar faces here.

Star choreographer Akram Khan, beloved by Ottawa-Gatineau and audiences around the world, is making his big return to the National Arts Centre with this striking retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s famous Jungle Book. Against a backdrop of cardboard and immersive projections, young Mowgli navigates a world in distress, where empathy and kindness must prevail.

The human form often conveys vitally important messages through dance—and together, we are about to witness an urgently powerful one. Thank you for coming to listen, to watch and to experience it with all of us. We should all take to heart the message expressed so forcefully and with such conviction by the artists onstage: we are but visitors in this land and must treasure and respect the nature and animals inhabiting it.

Thank you for being here. See you again soon!

A note from Akram Khan

The National Arts Centre (NAC) has felt like a home to me in Canada. They have been with me since the very beginning of my artistic journey. So after two decades of continued support, I feel deeply humbled to be returning to the NAC, Ottawa with my latest work, Jungle Book reimagined, a personal creation. 

In these uncertain times, our planet faces unprecedented challenges due to our forgotten connection to Earth. We all inhabit it, we all take from it, and we all build on it, but we have forgotten to return our respect for it.  

I hope that Jungle Book reimagined  acts a step in building a brighter future, by inspiring us to re-learn what we, as a species, have so conveniently forgotten. 

“I feel compelled to share the story
– lovingly known as The Jungle Book
with children and adults from all cultures.”

I want to dive into the myths of today, and children’s stories of tomorrow. Hence, I want to find a way to take a known, familiar story and observe it through the lens of today’s children, my children, our children, who are and will become our present and future storytellers.


The Jungle Book’s story has always been close to me. Not only because I had played the role of Mowgli in an Indian dance production, as a young boy, but more because of the three deep lessons it held within it, that I have since carried with me throughout my life. The lessons of commonality between species, the binding interdependence between humans, animals and nature, and finally, a sense of family and our need to belong.

We are now living in unprecedented and uncertain times, not only for our species but for all species on this planet. And the root cause of this conundrum is because we have forgotten our connection to our home, our planet. We all inhabit it, we all take from it, and we all build on it, but we have forgotten to return our respect for it.

So I believe that we must make changes from the grassroots up, if we are to see a brighter future. And so I feel compelled to share the story – lovingly known as The Jungle Book – with children and adults from all cultures, in order to re-learn what we, as a species, have so conveniently forgotten. And I believe that the strongest, and deepest way to tell this story is through the magic of dance, music and theatre.


This production traces the original story by Rudyard Kipling, but this particular version is very much my own interpretation of the original. Mowgli and all the known characters from the original are in this new version, with a new original score.


I am extremely conscious of the deep messages within the original work. But I am also aware of the potency and relevance of these messages for today’s world. And I have always believed that, before words comes actions. So I decided to approach this production with a direct action towards climate change. Climate change is and will continue to affect all living creatures on this beautiful planet. So then how do we create a work that uses less sets, so we can travel lighter when touring? Since lockdown, I have come to appreciate technology, in ways that I did not before COVID-19. And that’s simply because it has allowed me to stay connected with my loved ones, my artistic team and the wider world. Without the use of technology, I would have felt truly alone.

And so, for Jungle Book reimagined, the stage is nearly empty – there is no traditional physical set. To achieve this, I explored the use of technology, projections, and film as the non-physical set. We must not forget that most often, great storytelling can be told by the simplest of tools. Our bodies, our voices, and our conviction in that story.

— Akram Khan


Act 1: 56 minutes

Intermission: 20 minutes

Act 2: 47 minutes



Sea levels are rising; waters dominate land; and humans scramble for their survival in search for higher ground. A young child finds herself separated from her family and ends up in a flooded city, deserted by its human inhabitants. Monuments have been uprooted and rearranged, and animals of all shapes and sizes have congregated here and formed an uneasy alliance as they try to live with this new unreliable climate. They have claimed this cityscape as their own – marking their territories in libraries, supermarkets, governmental buildings, and even places of worship.

The child is discovered by the wolf pack led by Raksha and Rama. Raksha wants to keep the child, but Rama insists that humans bring danger, and they must destroy it. Raksha protects Mowgli and presents her to an animal council, led by Akela, a dog, and with the watchful eyes in the sky of Chil, the kite. The animals speak of a mysterious hunter, a human who has been cast out by his own kind. The hunter has returned to these lands and keeps the animals in constant fear. After much deliberation, the child is accepted by the council and the naming process begins: Mowgli. Mowgli is set to work straight away; she must prove her worth and help the animals in their search for food. Maybe human instincts are just what they need.

Mowgli finds herself in the company of Bagheera, a kidnapped albino panther who grew up in a palace, and Baloo, an escaped dancing bear. However, on their quest for food, Mowgli is taken by the Bandar-log; lab monkeys who have had all kinds of experiments done on them. Through cunning, the Bandar-log outwit Baloo and Bagheera and steal Mowgli. Bagheera and Baloo must now find an animal capable of striking fear into the Bandar-log. After all, they are not animals of the tree world. They seek out Kaa, a rock python, who has escaped from captivity but still lives with the traumas of a lifetime stuck behind a glass viewing screen.


Mowgli is taken to the Bandar-log’s lair, a ransacked governmental building. The Bandar-log are no strangers to humankind; they come from testing laboratories and regurgitate commercial jingles and political rants they heard from their cages. They listened, copied, and aped the humans, but now they want to become them. Mowgli is the missing piece of the puzzle. A human child to teach them how to fully become human.

With the help of Kaa, Baloo and Bagheera rescue Mowgli from the hands of the Bandar-log just at the moment she is about to help them create fire: the most feared possession of mankind. Animals can’t control this. Mankind can.

When Mowgli is saved, the trio return to the council where Hathi, the leader of the elephants, tells them of their ancient tale, back to the time when the jungles they once knew were created.

But when the hunter finally breaches their territory, and shoots down Chil, the animals know that this spells the beginning of the end of the peace they have forged together. Mowgli, remembering her mother’s words throughout her journey, decides to stand up and fight for her newfound friends and seeks out the hunter and end his savagery.

About Akram Khan Company

In July 1999 in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, an animated and curiosity-filled conversation took place between the young gifted dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and an ambitious former dancer and just recently graduated arts manager Farooq Chaudhry. That conversation laid the foundation stone for a dynamic collaboration, culminating in the creation of Akram Khan Company one year later.

Inspired by Akram Khan’s early training in the Indian classical dance form kathak, and the hybrid language that organically emerged when Akram’s kathak training encountered contemporary dance in his teens, a vision began to form, fuelled by a desire to learn and create through collaboration with the very best people across all the disciplines in the arts.

The rules were simple: take risks, think big and daring, explore the unfamiliar, avoid compromise and tell stories through dance that are compelling and relevant, with artistic integrity.

In over 22 years, Akram Khan Company is now undisputedly one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world. The programmes range from kathak and modern solos to artist-to-artist collaborations and ensemble productions. The Company has a major international presence and enjoys busy tours that reach out to many cultures and peoples across the globe. Akram Khan has been the recipient of numerous international dance awards, the most notable being an Olivier Award for his solo production DESH in 2012.

A milestone in the Company’s journey was the creation of a section of the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2012.

Akram Khan Company enjoys artistic association with Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, Curve in Leicester, and other leading venues and festivals around the world.

Company Productions
Jungle Book reimagined (2022), Chotto Xenos (2020), Outwitting the Devil (2019), XENOS (2018), Until the Lions (2016), Chotto Desh (2015), Kaash (revival, 2014), TOROBAKA (2014), iTMOi (2013), DESH (2011), Vertical Road (2010), Gnosis (2009), In-I (2008), bahok (2008), Sacred Monsters (2006), zero degrees (2005), Variations for Vibes, Strings & Pianos (2006), Third Catalogue (2005), ma (2004), Ronin (2003), Kaash (2002), Polaroid Feet (2001), Related Rocks (2001), Rush (2000), Fix (2000), Loose in Flight (2000)

Jungle Book reimagined soundtrack by Jocelyn Pook

Jocelyn Pook is this soundtrack’s composer. Winning Olivier and BAFTA awards for her work in theatre and TV, and known for her work on films from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut to John Smith’s Blight to Björn L. Runge’s The Wife, this new Real World release marks a powerful new chapter in her career.

Pook’s soundtrack carries us from a dramatic ‘Exodus’ to an intimate ‘Mother’s Lullaby’, creating a vivid world through new music. Here are creatures rustling through the trees, moving and connecting, conjured up by the sounds of twitching strings, sighing woodwind and delicate kalimbas. Here are their deep, resonant voices, lamenting alone and rallying together.

Listen to the soundtrack here.


  • akram-khan-c-max-barnett
    Director/Choreographer Akram Khan


Akram Khan Company

Akram Khan 

Creative Associate/Coach
Mavin Khoo 

Tariq Jordan 

Dramaturgical Advisor
Sharon Clark 

Jocelyn Pook 

Sound Designer
Gareth Fry 

Lighting Designer
Michael Hulls 

Visual Stage Designer
Miriam Buether 

Art Direction and Director of Animation
Adam Smith (YeastCulture) 

Producer/Director of Video Design
Nick Hillel (YeastCulture) 

Rotoscope Artists/Animators
Naaman Azhari
Natasza Cetner
Edson R Bazzarin 

Rehearsal Director
Nicky Henshall
Andrew Pan
ngela Towler (Tour) 

Maya Balam Meyong
Tom Davis-Dunn
Harry Theadora Foster
Filippo Franzese
Bianca Mikahil
Max Revell
Matthew Sandiford
Pui Yung Shum
Holly Vallis
Jan Mikaela Villanueva
Luke Watson 

Assistant Animators
Nisha Alberti
Geo Barnett
Miguel Maella Black
Michelle Cramer
Jack Hale
Zuzanna Odolczyk
Sofja Umarik 

Voice Actors
Tian-Lan Chaudhry
Joy Elias-Rilwan
Pushkala Gopal
Dana Haqjoo
Nicky Henshall
Su-Man Hsu
Kathryn Hunter
Emmanuel Imani
Divya Kasturi
Jeffery Kissoon
Mavin Khoo
Yasmin Paige
Max Revell
Christopher Simpson
Pui Yung Shum
Holly Vallis
Jan Mikaela Villanueva
Luke Watson
3rd Year students of Rambert School. 

Producing Director
Farooq Chaudhry 

Executive Director
Isabel Tamen 

Project Manager
Mashitah Omar 

Technical Director
Zeynep Kepekli 

Technical Manager
Michael Cunningham 

Touring Production Manager and Prop Maker
Marek Pomocki 

Lighting Engineer
Stephane Dejours 

Sound Engineer
Philip Wood 

Video Technician and Projectionist
Matthew Armstrong 

Technical Stage Manager
Samuel Collier 

Jocelyn Pook (piano, viola, voice, keyboards)
Mulele Matondo (guitar and sanza)
Belinda Sykes (shawm and gralla) 

Recording and mixing
Steve Parr 

“How Dare You?”, Greta Thunberg, recording property of United Nations 

“Blah, blah, blah”, speech by Greta Thunberg 

Co-produced by
Curve Leicester, Attiki Cultural Society – Greece, Birmingham Hippodrome, Edinburgh International Festival, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay Singapore, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Joan and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance – Chicago, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts – New York, Maison de la Danse / Pôle européen de création – Lyon, National Arts Centre – Canada, New Vision Arts Festival – Hong Kong, Orsolina28, Pfalzbau Bühnen – Theater im Pfalzbau Ludwigshafen, Romaeuropa Festival, Stanford Live / Stanford University, Teatros del Canal – Madrid, théâtre de Caen, Théâtre de la Ville – Paris. 

The technical adaptation of Jungle Book reimagined is kindly supported by Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. With the support of Garfield Weston Foundation, Genesis Foundation and Angela Bernstein CBE 

Supported by Arts Council England 

Special thanks to Lucia Chocarro, Vanessa Vince-Pang, Fukiko Takase, Tina and Richard Fagan, Sue Buckmaster, The Coronet Theatre, University of Roehampton, Mr. & Mrs. Khan, Yuko Khan, Sayuri, Kenzo & Ayana Khan, Amanda Britton, Darren Ellis, Sharon Watson, Ann David, Anda Winters, Ella Roberts, Anna CY Chan and the students of Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts that took part in creation rehearsals and all the 3rd year students of Northern School of Contemporary Dance (2021-2022) and 3rd year students of Rambert School (2021-2022) who worked on the R&D residency with Akram. 

Jocelyn Pook’s music © Copyright 2022 Chester Music Limited Music recorded by: 
Singers Tanja Tzarovska, Melanie Pappenheim, Sushma Soma, Sohini Alam, Voya Zivkovic 

NAC Dance Team

Executive Producer  
Caroline Ohrt 

Senior Producer  
Tina Legari 

Special Projects Coordinator and Assistant to the Executive Producer  
Mireille Nicholas 

Company Manager  
Sophie Anka 

Education Associate and Teaching Artist  
Siôned Watkins 

Technical Director  
Brian Britton 

Marketing Strategist  
Marie-Chantale Labbé-Jacques 

Marketing Strategist 
Marie-Pierre Chaumont 

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees