Name to know: Aakash Odedra
This dancer has officially shed his ‘rising star’ status – he’s arrived
Do you know exactly what you’ll be doing two years from now? Dancer-choreographer Aakash Odedra does; he has shows planned all the way to 2017. The Leicester/ Birmingham-based artist studied kathak and bharatanatyam for 17 years before adding contemporary dance to his repertoire. The change came after Rising (2011), a top-billed show for which contemporary dance legends Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Odedra’s mentor Akram Khan choreographed solos for him. The Guardian called it “the dance equivalent of a red-carpet event”, lauding Odedra’s “jangling, rogue energy”.
The 29-year-old’s new works, Murmur and Inked, are also his most personal. Murmur explores his struggle with dyslexia. “I wrote my name as ‘Akash’ until I was 21, which is when I noticed an extra ‘a’ on my passport for the first time. I was suddenly a whole different person.”He offers a sense of this dissonance when hespirals violently in a vortex of swirling papers.The second project, Inked (choreographed by French-Belgian big-hitter Damien Jalet), which explores “the psychology behind tattoos” is inspired by his Kathiawadi grandmother. “The last image of her, imprinted on my mind, is of me holding her tattoo-covered hand.”
In September, Odedra will come full circle when he returns to The Royal Opera House, where he was first spotted by Khan in 2008. Except, this time, he will choreograph six dancers from the Royal Ballet, for a piece inspired by the Greek myth of Prometheus. “Ballet dancers are refined, but I wanted to explore a more raw, instinctive state of being; it’s almost primal.”
Photograph: Sean Goldthorpe