Review || Echoes and I Imagine at Curve
Posted on The Grade By Laura Roe
One body on a stage and hundreds fall still, that body being the Kathak performer Aakash Odedra moving with the minds of Aditi Mangaldas (Echoes) and Sabrina Mahfouz (I Imagine). The double bill of Odedra took us from roots to relocations, inviting us to indulge the stories of past and present through traditional and contemporary dance.
A grey mist suspended above the audience within the large dark catacomb of the studio, the stage contoured with streams of gold lace and ghungroos, which hung down through the mist and channel along the ground. A sense of genesis embraces the space, taking us back to the foundations of which we all speculate, regardless of our origin. Echoes explored ancestry and its awakening within the contemporary body through traditional Kathak dance.
The symbolism of the ghungroo bells was the focus of the performance, representing a constant presence of tradition, which perhaps stands dormant within today’s generation. The piece transits from responding to the lyrical soundscape, collaborating with the sound and embodying the bells; the latter being the most captivating. The majority of the performance was scored with ethereal music that moved back and forth from instrumental to lyrical. However, the most poignant was the silence in the embodiment section.
Halfway through the piece, Odedra tied ghungroos to his ankles and started to create his own sound scape. This was a refreshing personal exploration and a pinnacle point in becoming one with his heritage. We could for the first time watch Odedra move to his own beat and clarify the ‘metaphor of resonance, of freedom and of awakening’. This section was brief and soon lost as it bled back into the relentless soundscape. However, Echoes was an fervent performance which depicted the resonance between a body and its origins.
With the stage littered in suitcases the subject matter of I Imagine was evident before the lights went down. The piece combined physical theatre, spoken word and contemporary dance to communicate today’s deliberation of migration.
The performance was comical yet profound as we were introduced to three generations of personal reflection on migration. Odedra’s somewhat Brechtian approach to storytelling was supplemented though the work of David Poznanter, who created masks for the three characters (third generation: adolescence female, second generation: middle aged man and first generation: old man). Odedra was accompanied by the voice of Sabrina Mahfouz, a spoken word artist who interluded throughout the performance, which sometimes got lost within the action onstage.
The set was crafted by the manipulation of props and Odedra’s rapid acceleration of physicality lead to a mesmerising movement sequence midway throughout he performance. As his clothing constrained and manipulated his movement, the raw and depleted topic of migration was incapsulated in Odedra’s choreography. The physical self struggle within the section reflected the diversity and detachment between the generations of migrants and the confusion between ancestry and the present. I Imagine is an explorative piece with spectacle as well as substance, producing a performance in which to indulge.
Odedra’s ability to captivate his audience through the austerity and entirety of his performances produces art with unique substance and style, which should be experienced time and time again.