Choreographed by Aakash Odedra, Akram Khan, Russel Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Aakash Odedra Company. OzAsia Festival. The Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Festival Centre. October 6 and 7 2017
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Rising comprises four unique dance works by extraordinary solo contemporary dance performer, Aakash Adedra. Bathed in a muted shaft of light, Odedra emerges in the first work ,Nritta, dressed in the white Mundu sarong of India. Electrifying in its traverse through earth and air, the Khatak dance recalls the instantaneous reaction of the Punjabi, jerkily slicing through the air with angular precision while the feet swiftly ricochet upon the earth in rapid motion. Odedra’s dance is a feat of masterful control and dexterity swiftly veering from the poise and grace of the ballet to the earth bound rhythms of the ground. One imagines the long warrior’s sword slicing through the air and in a gesture of speed and accuracy finding its mark. Odedra’s dance is mesmerizing, powerful and possessed, manifest in the cycle of birth and death through the vigorous percussive beat and perfect balance of the physical and the spiritual essence of being.
Crouched in the shadows of the thin shaft of hazy light, Odedra, insect-like, creeps his hands over the taut sinews of his naked back. In The Shadow Of Man, choreographed by Akram Khan, animal and human coalesce in a dance of ambivalence, momentarily weaving snake-like along the stage or rising to embrace the two-legged form of the human. The animal gods of the Indian theology embrace the physical connection between animal and man embodied in their spirituality and harmony of body and soul. Odedra’s dance transcends all expectation and begs the question, ”What animal resides within the body of man?”
The final piece, Constellation, lures us into a world of magical mystery. Willy Cessa’s lighting using a series of incandescent globes and Olga Wojchiechowska’s music provide the ideal accompaniment to choreographer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s fascination with light and sound. The identical source of lightning and thunder refract across the heavens in opposing elements. Opposites combine to create effect and the stage fills with globes that move mysteriously, flickering and fading as they recede and emerge. Odedra, clothed again in white, moves as though on air through the globes, caressing and guiding, extinguishing and lighting within a spiritual sea of luminosity. It is a soothing and startling conclusion to an amazing display of contemporary dance.
Rising inspires and elevates the spirit. Odedra’s dance is bewitching in its mastery of space and motion, transfixing us with physical feats of strength and versatility and transporting us to a greater appreciation of the cultural influence that gives rise to this astounding performance. It is not surprising that the audience cheered and rose spontaneously to their feet in recognition of this great collaborative work.