dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Blending South Asian and contemporary dance
It has been ten years since Aakash Odedra premiered the Rising programme at Birmingham Hippodrome and this performance was both an exploration and celebration of that work. Bringing together Odedra's dancing with a host of top choreographers produces a programme which both stretches and highlights Odedra's talents, showing that while he is a master of South Asian dance he is also a talent to be reckoned with in other forms of movement.
The programme begins with Nritta, a piece choreographed by Odedra, which gives ample opportunity to show his skill as a leading British South Asian dancer. Revelling in pure kathak forms, it also provides an ideal framework for the audience to refer back to when the other pieces in the programme are more of a fusion of South Asian with contemporary movement.
Shadow of Man was created by Akram Khan for Odedra and explores the concept of the animal inside the human. It's stark beginning, with Odedra literally just moving occasional muscles, is unnerving – we are immediately aware of the animal trying to break through the skin. This idea is explored further as Odedra seemingly battles between his human and animal instincts even calling out beast-like from the stage.
Russell Maliphant's Cut uses lighting brilliantly to highlight Odedra's movement. As the dancer moves back and forth between cones and spotlights of illumination, parts of his body appear bright while others are invisible so that the bonds between corporeal and material blur. As Odedra whirls, arms outstretched across the pyramids of illumination, we feel we are watching a light sabre swathing through the space rather than a body on terra firma.
Finally, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Constellation sees Odedra moving through a space surrounded by hung lights. This is a more contemplative piece as he becomes one with this universe, lighting and darkening as he moves around the stage.
Taking place in Birmingham Hippodrome's Patrick Studio for one night, Rising was a real treat to see the blending of so much talent and so many different ideas of dance. In the Q&A following the performance, Hippodrome associate artist Odedra told the audience that when he first performed Rising he was new to contemporary dance but watching this performance we would have had no awareness of this. Odedra blends his incredibly fluid movement through a range of different productions with ease and confidence making these pieces his own and showing the excitement which can result from a blending of dance traditions.