Manchester International Festival: Breathless Puppets by Akram Khan & Naaman Azhari

Forced apart in childhood by the expectations of their cultures and the disapproval of their fathers, two men with a passion for dance reconnect through the tragedy of the pandemic. 

Manchester International Festival: Breathless Puppets by Akram Khan & Naaman Azhari

‘Breathless Puppets’ is a beautiful project. Choreographed by Akram Khan and directed by Naaman Azhari, this powerful short film uses rotoscope animation, created by hand-drawing over live action footage. The striking contrast in colours, relatable storyline and expressive movement all combine to make ‘Breathless Puppets’ a breathtaking must-watch. 

Torn between being an authentic performer and performing in their lives, unfulfilled by their parents’ choices, we are met by two characters that share a passion for dance. Dance proves to be an escape from their hectic worlds of approval. 

Once they both decide to take their performance into their own hands, we see a black and white screen and the choreography they created come to life. What I enjoyed about this piece was not only was it visually powerful, but the ‘breathe’ themes run through the film.

For instance, in the last dance, the drum and bass-esque beat utilises a breath sound as the main component. As the performance heightens, the breath sound increases and you find yourself immersed within a final breakthrough of creativity and independence. We can all relate to this story, as undoubtedly at one point we have been stifled as creatives – by ourselves or by others. 

The story then takes a turn, as we travel back to present-day England, where the duo are reunited in unfortunate circumstances amid the coronavirus pandemic – one as a doctor and another as the patient. The unpredictable ending makes for an emotive watch as we are forced to rethink what truly motivates us – our passions or the approval of others. 

Akram Khan & Naaman Azhari did an amazing job at telling this story and the unique portrayal made it all the more engaging. I highly recommend ‘Breathless Puppets’ and the further exploration of these artists. 

Click here to watch ‘Breathless Puppets’.  

Manchester International Festivals Postcards from Now

Header Image Credit: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)


De-Mornae Clarke

De-Mornae Clarke Kickstart Team

De-mornae is a Kickstart Journalist for Voice. Music, interviews and pop culture are her preferred topics of interest but is often pushing her own creative boundaries to prove that anyone can have an opinion regardless of their background, education or class.

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