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OzAsia review: Rising


Rising is an evening of four exhilarating dances performed by Aakash Odedra which fuse traditional Indian and contemporary dance while exploring the possibilities of movement, lighting and technology.

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Odedra, who is trained in the traditional Indian dance forms of Kathak and Bharatanatyam, first appears in a long white kurta, almost worshipping in a rectangular shaft of light. He then proceeds to display masculine power and feminine sensitivity in his choreographic piece, Nritta.

The essential idea is that of the masculine half and feminine half searching to unite and be whole, and throughout this dance we are enchanted by the strong down beats and angular, arrow-like arm formations combined with graceful, delicate hand movements.

Akram Khan choreographed the second dance, In the Shadow of Man, which searches for the animal within us. Odedra’s torso appears lit by a dim, single amber spot and through the haze we struggle to determine what we are seeing – man or animal.

The dancer adds shrieking vocals to complement the animalism of his creation and we see him, through a series of amber spots, on all fours, ape-like; later, he appears more human, but at various stages of evolution.

Cut, choreographed by Russell Maliphant, is performed against Andy Cowton’s industrialised soundscape and Michael Hull’s inventive lighting, which simulates time-lapse photography and focuses on the beauty and flexibility of the dancer’s hands in light to create birds, windmills and blurred motion.

The final dance, Constellation, by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, cleverly uses large suspended globes that re-create the skies and represent man’s isolation in the universe. Combined with Jocelyn Pook’s single notes and chords, and Odedra’s balletic movement, the effect is beautiful, and when he takes to the lotus position, one lit globe in hand, a wave of serenity, wisdom and completion radiates from the stage then permeates the auditorium.

At his OzAsia Festival performance, Odedra also paid a moving tribute to Lewis Major, a local choreographer who is exploring new styles of dance with companies around the world.

Through the medium of dance, Rising shows us where we have come from, where we are and what we can attain.

Rising was presented by the Aakash Odedra Company at the Dunstan Playhouse as part of the OzAsia Festival.

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