Posted on October 12, 2015
By The Version
At the end of an Indian summer, it was a real treat to be invited along to the Curve Theatre in Leicester for the world premiere of Aakash Odedra’s new show, Echoes and I Imagine.
Aakash Odedra is widely regarded as a rising star, and is part of an exciting new generation of British dancers/choreographers, having been mentored by top artists including Akram Khan. He was born in Birmingham and trained in classical Indian dance styles of Kathak and Bharat Natyam, which he infuses with contemporary styles in his dance and choreography.
The full range of Aakash’s dancing abilities are on show for Echoes, an energetic piece of Kathak dance, choreographed by icon Aditi Mangaldas, that explores relationships with our ancestors. It starts with Aakash in the far left of the stage, whirling ghunghru (small bells tied to string – you can see these at the start of the trailer on youtube) around his body. In the stage setting, further ghunghru are strewn across the floor and hung from the ceiling in the far right. As the piece evolves, Aakash collects in the strewn ghunghru, clearing space on the floor where he then dazzles us with his Kathak dance, which combines elegant hand and arm movement with rhythmic footwork and tapping. Traditional music accompanies the piece, embellishing the experience and immersing the audience in Indian culture.
A short interval allowed us to enjoy a drop of wine courtesy of the Curve whilst discussing our interpretations of Echoes, and gave Aakash a well-earned chance to catch his breath. After the interval, came I Imagine, a self-choreographed piece that was in stark contrast to Echoes, being far more contemporary and performed to spoken word by Sabrina Mahfouz. It tells the story of three characters and their experience of migration, in a symbolic way where the stage is setup with three collections of suitcases. Aakash transitions between the three characters by the use of his body, combined with entertaining impersonations and the use of exaggerated masks.
Whereas the first piece was quite open to interpretation, the second piece is a poignant and provocative look at migration, from the perspective of the migrant. Both pieces were entertaining, yet they challenged the audience to look beyond the performance, and ultimately left us wanting to see more from the talented Aakash Odedra.