All posts by akaashodedra

A full colour image showing a male dancer performing #JeSuis by Aakash Odedra

Male Dancer Required

To join the existing cast of Aakash Oderdra Company’s award winning work #JeSuis, for the German tour 16 October – 17 November 2019.

To register your interest please email, you will receive a link to learn two phrases to be submitted via video no later than Thursday 15 August, 3pm. 

If required, shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend an audition on 19, 20 or 21 August, in Leicester (UK).

A full colour image showing Aakash Odedra, Alka Bagri and Hu Shenyuan at the Royal Opera House

Aakash Odedra Company and Bagri Foundation announce Samsara

A major international dance collaboration between two extraordinary soloists

World premiere: Asia TOPA Festival in Melbourne, 5 to 7 March 2020
Chinese premiere: Shanghai International Dance Center, March 2020
UK premiere and tour: opens June 2020

Aakash Odedra Company has announced its next major project, Samsara, a collaboration between Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan, two of the finest exponents of culturally-specific dance forms from their countries of origin, India and China, on the world stage.

Odedra has attracted global attention for both his virtuoso Kathak performances and his contemporary choreography. One of the outstanding dancers of his generation in China, Shenyuan was the standout performer when he appeared in Yang Liping’s Under Siegeat Sadler’s Wells in 2016.

Samsarais inspired by Wu Cheng’en’s classic 16thcentury Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’ which depicts the journey of Buddhist philosophy from India to China, in turn inspired by the real life monk Xuanzang who undertook a pilgrimage in the 7thcentury.  The story of cultural exchange and common philosophy will be key to Odedra and Shenyuan’s interpretation.

Samsarahas been made possible by the generous support of the Bagri Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Asia. Aiming to challenge, engage and inspire, it gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage and supports a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures.

Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “To be able to support two extremely talented dancers and choreographers as part of this one-of-a-kind commission is a real privilege. With our aim at the Foundation to support new generations of talent that celebrate traditional Asian arts in a contemporary way, this felt like a perfect fit. We have been able to see this collaboration come together over the past year and are extremely excited to help bring this story to the world stage.”

Anand Bhatt, Aakash Odedra Company’s producer, says: “When two exceptional dancers like Aakash and Hu make a decision to work together, it really feels like you had the best day in the office. This very special project exemplfies the creative case for diversity. Aakash and Hu will work with exceptional collaborators and we are very excited by the range of international and home partners and supporters engaging with us. In particular support from London-based Bagri Foundation has enabled us to work with exceptional artistic collaborators and given us technical resources we would not otherwise have had. Our other partners in England include Arts Council England, Curve in Leicester (always special as it is where we started and we are based in the City); Birmingham Hippodrome (Aakash’s original home town) and the Royal Ballet in London.”

Samsara is co-commissioned by Curve, Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome.  Aakash Odedra is Associate Artist at both venues.

Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Curve, say: “We are delighted to support Aakash and his team in this new production. Aakash has long been part of the fabric of Curve as an Associate Artist and we are really excited about this inspiring collaboration by these exceptionally talented artists which our audiences here in Leicester can enjoy here at Curve in 2020.”

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome added: “We’re incredibly excited about this new collaboration, which will appear in Birmingham as one of the signature artistic works of the China West Midlands 2020 programme. Having supported Aakash’s most recent international work #JeSuis, which enjoyed great success in the UK and beyond, we are delighted to see one of our Associate Artists take another step forward with this new production.”

Samsara will open at Asia TOPA Festival in Melbourne on 5 to 7 March 2020 followed by its Chinese premiere on 12 to 14 March 2020. It will premiere and tour in the UK from June 2020.

See the Samsara trailer below: 


Notes to editors

  1. Co-producing/commissioning partners of Samsara: Asia TOPA; Arts Centre Melbourne; Birmingham Hippodrome; Curve Leicester; the Royal Ballet; Shanghai International Dance Centre, Theatre National de Chaillot.
  2. Supporting partners of Samsara: British Council; Jacob’s Pillow; Peacock Contemporary Dance Company (Kunming, China); Playking Foundation; Sidney Myer Fund; Victoria Government.
  3. Based in Leicester, Aakash Odedra Company exists to deliver exceptional creative experiences for audiences and participants and to help create a society that is happier and healthier through dance and the arts. We want to ensure that our dance work reflects excellence, removes barriers to access excellent dance and art and makes art and dance education opportunities more widely available. We create dance works through a synthesis of Kathak, contemporary and Bollywood-Jazz which push boundaries, responding to and drawing inspiration from contemporary issues. Bilingual in classical and contemporary dance we use the voice of British-Asian experience to translate ancient and contemporary movement languages to tell new stories relevant to today. Our location within Leicester’s international communities has allowed us to be more aware of, and pro-active about, the opportunities of plural heritage and the importance of a culture of accessibility, social justice, messaging and making people feel welcome. Aakash Odedra Company Aakash Odedra is an Associate Artist at Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome. Aakash Odedra Company is a National Partner Organisation of Sadler’s Wells and one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations.
  4. Aakash Odedra is a dancer, choreographer and teacher. Born in Birmingham, UK and trained in the classical Indian dance styles of Kathak (Nilima Devi, Leicester and Asha Joglekar, India) and Bharatanatyam (Chitraleka Bolar, Birmingham and Chhaya Kantaveh, India). Aakash formed Aakash Odedra Company in 2011 as a vehicle for commissioning solos and to develop his own choreographic work. His debut full length solo Rising featured new short works created for him by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant. As choreographer he was commissioned to create a piece for James Brown: Get on the Good Foot(Apollo Theater, New York) and the Opera God’s Little Soldier(Theater Freiburg), The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the closing of the London Cultural Olympiad. Aakash has received numerous awards and bursaries, including a Dora performance award (Canada), Danza&Danza award (Italy), Audience Award Dance Week 2013 (Croatia), Infant Award 2014 (Serbia), Bessie Award (Best Male Performer, 2014) and a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship. 
  5. Hu Shenyuan is an independent dancer and choreographer. He graduated from the Dance Academy of Central MinZu University before working in Beijing for LDTX Dance Company from 2012 to 2014. As a dancer, he played Yu Ji in Yang Liping’s dance work Under Siegeto great public acclaim. In 2017, Hu became the first young artist supported by Yang Liping Art Foundation, created his work Rovingand established his studio Hu-Hu Dance. Hu’s choreographic works include RovingThe Moonlight RainbowSo CloseWithIDEgo,andSuper-Egoand The Flower of Freedom. Several of his creations have been selected for the exhibition unit of the China Youth Dance Talents Training Program. His many awards include Best Performance Award at the 4th Beijing International Ballet and Choreography Competition; the Silver Award from the 16th Italian Rome International Choreography Competition and the Jury Chairman’s Award at the 15th Seoul International Dance Competition in 2018. 
  6. Bagri Foundation, established in 1990, is a family foundation spanning three generations. It is inspired by creative, unique and unexpected ideas that weave the traditional and the contemporary of Asian culture. The Foundation is driven by curiosity and a desire to learn and supports a myriad of exciting artistic programmes that challenge, engage and inspire. Through a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures, it gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage.
  7. Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent, not-for-profit, registered charity (No. 510842) welcoming an average 500,000 visits annually making it the most popular single auditorium in the UK. Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange are resident partners; the theatre presents all of Welsh National Opera’s repertoire, and welcomes the best in international dance, major touring dramas, West End musicals and one of the UK’s biggest pantomimes. As a charity with no public revenue subsidy, Birmingham Hippodrome earns its share of box office and receives generous support from the business community through sponsorship and other partnerships; from individuals through donations and memberships; and from grant-making Trusts for special programming and infrastructure projects. It is a major employer and plays a leading role in the Southside Business Improvement District. Hippodrome Projects delivers three strands of work: community, learning and artistic ambition. 
  8. Almost one million people annually engage with Curve through performances and projects at its home in Leicester, across the UK and internationally. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Curve has developed a reputation for producing, programming and touring a bold and diverse programme of musicals, plays, new work, dance and opera. All of this is presented alongside a dynamic mix of community engagement, artist development and learning programmes, which firmly places audiences, artists and communities at the heart of everything the venue does.
  9. Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. It supports a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, ACE will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
A full colour image showing Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan in the studio during a rehearsal and development session.
Aakash Odedra & Hu Shenyuan in the studio during a rehearsal and development session for Samsara.
Two logos in black on white background, Aakash Odedra Company and Bagri Foundation

Aakash on BBC Radio 4 Front Row

Aakash Odedra joined the Front Row discussion on the future of dance in the UK alongside Kate Prince, Artistic Director of ZooNation; choreographer Tom Dale; and Laura Jones, Interim Co-Artistic Director of Stopgap Dance Company.

Sign in BBC Radio 4 Front Row to listen the programme on:
Aakash Odedra Company on the news

Interview with Birmingham Post.

Published on the printed version on January 17, 2019

Dancer and choreographer Aakash Odedra talks to Post Life ahead of his upcoming solo performance at the Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio…

“Returning to my roots is a reminder I dared to dream”

Aakash Odedra

(Click on image below to read the full interview)

Birmingham Post, interview with Aakash, 17.1.19

Rising @ Monaco Dance Forum

Interview by Monaco Info after our last presentation of 2018.

“Dans le cadre du « Monaco Dance Forum », le public a pu découvrir et s’émerveiller devant le spectacle « Rising », un programme interprété au Théâtre des Variétés par le danseur et chorégraphe : Aakash Odedra. Créé par trois grands noms de la chorégraphie, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant et Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, des jeux de lumières et d’obscurité se sont succédés tout au long de cette danse créative, où se mêlent modernité et tradition dans la plus parfaite harmonie”.

A full colour image showing a group of dancers on stage with their arms in the air, during a performance of #JeSuis. Image by Sean Goldthorpe

Aakash Odedra Company presents Odedra’s first company work, #JeSuis

A  powerful and political piece for seven Turkish dancers
Winner of the 2017 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award

London premiere: Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, 7 & 8 November then touring

Choreographer and performer Aakash Odedra has created his first company work on seven dancers from Turkey. A powerful physical exploration of oppression in all its guises, layers and contexts, #JeSuis has its London premiere at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells on 7 and 8 November.

#JeSuis has been several years in the making. Odedra first met the dancers in 2012 when he taught a workshop at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul – and it was their collective responses to the widespread misinterpretations of their country which inspired him to create the piece. Preview performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017 won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and in June 2018 it won the Eastern Eye ACTA Dance Award. The world premiere took place at the New York University Abu Dhabi in February of this year.

Wrapped up in ideas around displacement, refuge and instability, #JeSuis portrays the frustrations of lives lived in conflict, a homeland that no longer knows the meaning of ‘home’, living somewhere where freedoms and choices are a luxury and the main hope is to stay safe.

#JeSuis also looks at the role of the media in dictating the stories we see.  While #JeSuisCharlie brought solidarity and comfort to a world grieving the horrific attacks in Paris in 2015, other equally appalling attacks took place in Kabul and Istanbul but failed to capture the attention in quite the same way. #JeSuis  acknowledges that some acts of oppression are more loudly heard and deeply felt than others

The dancers are Gizem Aksu, Yasin Anar, Evrim Akyay, Taner Güngör, Su Güzey, Beril Şenöz and Melissa Ugolini.

The musical score is by Odedra’s long-term collaborator Nicki Wells. Dramaturgy is by Lou Cope and lighting design by Alessandro Barbieri.

Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, said of the piece: “#JeSuis is a powerful wake-up call to everyone on the climate of violence and oppression that people in Turkey are currently enduring. To see attacks on freedom of expression portrayed through the medium of dance was incredibly powerful and accessible…. A production addressing freedom of expression in Turkey is particularly resonant for us as an organisation as our colleagues from Amnesty International Turkey are currently languishing in jail.”

Murmur 2.0 / Inked, The Riverfront, Newport

October 20, 2016 by Jane Oriel

As we take our seats in the auditorium for Inked, the first of tonight’s two-dance programme, revealed in the dim light of the performance space is a single white silk drape, ceiling to floor, with the shape of a Gormley-ish man cut from it. Now in full darkness, unmistakably Kathak foot stamps can be heard, as the dancer’s own dark form appears through the shadow man, beating a growing foot rhythm that becomes a fluid locomotion that transports a seemingly static Aakash Odedra across the width of the stage on a beam of light.

Choreographed for Odedra by Damien Jalet, the now kneeling man in shirt and tied langot pants, begins to mark his arms with black ink characters. The shapes are deliberately formed. He then links hands and undulating from both shoulders, deceives the eye into believing his arms are boneless. The effect brings a ghoulishly fascination and I have to snap myself back into the room on more than one occasion to break away from it.

Now falling to sit in a solid lotus position, he’s like a street beggar, a double amputee as the legs (as they are) to the knee, perambulate the dancer around the stage in frustrated, stunted fashion. The programme says the inked decorations refer to Odedra’s grandmother who was symbolically, bodily marked in the service of protecting her family from damaging forces. Might her marks be powerful enough to protect the legs of a dancer?

A little later, Odedra kneels forward and removes his shirt. On wildly moving, gesturing shoulder blades are painted eyes. His hairy head could be a snout now, his forehead snuffling the ground. The gently humorous scene draws some ripples of laughter, which his shoulder-eyes glance towards, drawing a little more.

Then changing the mood, he throws his body forward and a stream of ink spews forth. The atmosphere shifts to calm and in a range of body extensions with his inked extremities as styli, he adds lavish ink marks both to himself and the white floor sheet. Atmospheric music by Loscil is sparingly used throughout, helping to change mood and direction as needed. At the conclusion, the calm hypnotic shapes as safety in patterns, family and tradition is satisfactorily acknowledged.

Raised in Birmingham, Aakash Odedra was found to be dyslexic while still quite young. Finding regular, written learning a challenge, once discovered, dance became his key language of communication. Now an Ambassador for the charity Dyslexia Action, the headline dance Murmur 2.0, choreographed by Lewis Major and Odedra, explores the condition and its perceived, warped and exaggerated realities.

Five silk drapes now, encircled by a number of electric fans. A man sits, working things out, counting out loud One, Two Three, Four, then in Urdu, Ek, Do, Teen, Chaar. He makes mistakes, he’s slow. Hand shapes correspond with each number then a hand stops working, goes dead. As inert as a dead bird, the wrist hangs lifeless. The dancer speaks to us.

“How long does it take to correct a mistake? 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 years, 21 years?”

He makes mistakes with his legs, his body. He walks on bent toes to squeamish responses from the audience. That’s not the right way to walk. He’s learning to spell his name out loud: A – K – A – S – H, but we learn he only discovered at 21 that there was an extra A in AAKASH despite it being there all the time.

After ceremonially straightening the silk drapes to create a partition, a screen, all of a sudden a swirl of small, animated birds fly upwards and over him. This is when we discover tonight’s multi-media possibilities bringing with it a heightened fascination.

Dancing behind this diaphanous partition, real-time visual tricks expand the dancer’s reality and his self-awareness. An ingenious camera technology tracks Odedra’s every move to play it a split second later against the screen as a scratchy, moving line drawing that grows as big as a Yeti. The variations at play are downright exciting and its thrilling to see dance, the art form, unafraid of appearing polluted. The soundtrack by Nicki Wells and music supervisor Nitin Sawhney, is strong and imposing but has sadness.

Finding some calm, and moving towards the climax with a metaphorical sun setting through lighting, a single A4 sheet of paper falls from the heavens, following by more to create a downpour. Catching each one of them, Odedra is no longer frightened by the page but there is still room for overwhelm that comes when all fans are turned on creating a whirlwind of literacy. Having found the once missing A of his name, he loses it again amidst the swirling updrafts, causing a frantic panic. With a dark stage, vortexing blue lit smoke and a nightmare of projected chalk drawings that show a bird in a cage, then out free, followed by an almost Hitchcockian raging murmur of birds on the wing, our dancer is like Saint-Exupéry’s, The Little Prince that I see referenced in the chalk drawings, his long scarf outstretched with birds flying on leashes.

The struggle to remain in control despite not interpreting word shapes on the page as others do, to fly with the birds and keep in formation, is expressed in the overwhelming, heightened emotions, as everything comes gently to rest again as this wildly imaginative dance expression draws to its end. As the appreciative audience is loud with cheers and awe, Aakash Odedra Company’s second visit to Newport this year further secures their reputation as a bright light in UK Dance.

Read the original review in Art Scene in Wales