‘Rising’ up to meet its audience

Rising is a solo dance performance by British dancer Aakash Odedra. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
Rising is a solo dance performance by British dancer Aakash Odedra. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 15 — This is pure dance; there is no narrative or story as such but Rising will take you to the stars and back.

A solo dance performance by British dancer Aakash Odedra, Rising opens tonight  at 8.30pm at PenangPAC, Straits Quay.

Malaysians are in for a treat as previous performances in Europe and America back in 2012 wowed audiences.

The four different parts of the dance are choreographed by Aakash and three other top contemporary choreographers; namely, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui who coincidentally is also participating in George Town Festival 2014.

“My own solo comes from the essence of kathak, a North Indian traditional dance, where it is all at a bare minimum... no fancy lights, no fancy costumes, it’s pure virtuosity, pure physicality, pure energy and pure dance,” Aakash described the first part, called Nritta.

The next piece is Akram’s The Shadow of Men which depicts a tormented character.

“This character goes between the basic animal quality and the suffering human quality. As if the human is in a cage, in his own cage of his lungs,” Aakash explained.

The dark, almost spooky piece, flows right into Maliphant’s work Cut which is a collaboration of light and dance to show the relationship of the body with lights.

“He used the idea of kathak and cut it with strips of light to create an architecture of its own on stage,” Aakash said.

The dance ends with the poetic, dreamy and fantastical work by Cherkaoui named Constellation, an inspiration taken from Aakash’s name.

“My name means the sky, so this final solo demonstrates the depths of the universe where 15 bulbs are on stage as the constellations while I dance amongst them,” he said.

Aakash Odedra practising at the Penangpac studio. —  Picture by K.E.Ooi
Aakash Odedra practising at the Penangpac studio. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

All four themes are different with Aakash as the only common denominator but what seems to pull it all together is how the dancer evolves;  from the bare basics in the pure energy of kathak to the dark and the light before ending with the poetic and romantic.

“For me, it is almost like the human spectrum of emotions – there’s happiness, sadness, anger and jealousy – but in between the emotions, there are emotions without names so this journey of one dance to another is like travelling through these unnamed emotions,” Aakash said of the show.

There is no clear message in the whole performance due to the four different themes so it is a dance that reaches out to the audience through pure emotions.

“A romantic person may feel a connection to Cherkaoui’s work while someone who prefers something dark and primal may prefer Akram’s piece or those who like pure energy and dance will prefer my own piece,” he said.

Rising does not fit into any single category as it is a combination of contemporary and kathak while bringing its audience through the different range of emotions.

Surprisingly, despite his prowess in contemporary dance, Aakash only started immersing himself into contemporary dance four years ago.

“I trained in kathak for 18 years before I decided to lose myself in contemporary dance. In life, if you become comfortable, then you will stop growing so you have to lose yourself in order to find yourself as an artist,” he said of his move to contemporary dance.

British dancer Aakash Odedra. —  Picture by K.E.Ooi
British dancer Aakash Odedra. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

Aakash has been dancing from the age of eight, or even longer, for he was already dancing from the time he learnt to walk.

Dancing is now so natural for him, it is like breathing and it is a language for him to reach out to others in the world.

“You see, a spoken language belongs to a nation, like the Chinese language to China, French to France and Italian to Italy, but dance doesn't have a barrier, it shouldn't have a geographical boundary.

“Even though you learn it from a place or that it belongs to a certain district, I think after that, the language of dance opens up, sometimes the gesture is more than a word for me and it becomes a medium to reach out to people and humanity,” he said.

Rising, which is a part of George Town Festival 2014, will be held again tomorrow night at 8.30pm at PenangPAC.

Find out more about George Town Festival 2014 events at www.georgetownfestival.com.

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