OzAsia Review: Aakash Odedra shines in Rising, a breathtaking four-part dance performance

Like the dawning of a new day, a gentle light envelops the stage. Slowly we become aware of a solitary figure crouching in the gloom, gradually becoming clearer. Aakash Odedra dressed in traditional flowing Indian robes, unravels his body and dances across the stage in increasingly faster yet controlled movements. The name of this piece, Nritta means pure dance and combines elements of masculine and feminine from the God of Dance, Shiva.

Nritta displays the merging of male and female forms in a 16 beat time-cycle. Odedra has total control of his movements, with elements of martial arts coming into play. The traditional Indian music reaches a crescendo as the dancer spins ever faster, a metaphor for the never-ending search for his beloved.

Rising is a four-part performance, originally created in London by Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant and presented as part of the Oz Asia festival. The second dance piece, In the Shadow of Man by Akram Khan is a strong contrast, with stark red lighting pounding down on Odedra’s bare back. As if overtaken by some external force, his shoulder blades move in frightening actions. This piece considers the evolution of man; are we becoming more human over time or more animalistic?

The rich red light, the physically powerful writhing movements, the driving music by Jocelyn Pook all add up to a strong piece exploring our hidden animal instincts.

Russell Maliphant has created an equally stark yet different piece for Cut, the third piece in this performance.  The stark lighting, the smoke filled stage and Andy Cowton’s score combine to create a sense of form and style. As Odedra’s body cuts through the light, shapes emerge from the darkness. Light and shade combine to create a mesmerizing display that at times defies logic.

The final performance, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Constellation begins with Odedra moving amongst an array of hanging globes. As he touches them they light up and sway; eventually all are lit and Odedra moves through them all, controlling and influencing their movements. A mesmerizing display using simple props, effective and satisfying. There is an illusion of vastness of space and the never-ending passage of time.

There was a well-deserved standing ovation as this solid four-part performance touched those in the audience with the raw emotion and technical skill on display. It was a joy to have experienced this project.

The reviewer attended the performance on 6th October.

For more information about Rising in OzAsia, whose season has now ended, head HERE. For more information about Aakash Odedra Company, head HERE.

Photo credit: Sean Goldthorpe