One to One: Aakash Odedra

Keith Vaz Tuesday 27th July 2021 02:33 EDT

Aakash Odedra is a dancer, choreographer and teacher born in Birmingham and living in Leicester, UK. He trained in the classical Indian dance styles of kathak (Nilima Devi, Leicester and Asha Joglekar, India) and Bharatanatyam (Chitraleka Bolar, Birmingham and Chhaya Kantaveh, India); then moved to India as a student of the renowned Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Davar.   

His Company was formed in 2011 as a vehicle for commissioning work and to develop his own choreography. His award-winning debut performance Rising featured four solos by master choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Aakash himself.   

He has collaborated with celebrated dancer Hu Shenyuan and composer Nicki Wells to create the duet Samsara. In 2020 he was invited by the British Council in China to present the documentary Making of Samsara as part of the #ConnectdByCreativity UK-China Contemporary Culture Festival. 2021 marks the 10th Anniversary of Aakash Odedra Company and he began the year with an honour by The Queen; receiving the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his services to dance.   

Which place or city or country do you most feel at home in?     

Simple - LEICESTER (Belgrave)    

What are your proudest achievements?    

There are many now that I’ve had time to reflect over lockdown, Being Awarded a BEM on the queen's honours list, winning the Bessies in the USA for the James Brown project, working and Franchising with world-renowned Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Daver, choreographing for the Royal Ballet and royal Opera house, Travelling the world than bringing the world to Belgrave.   

 What inspires you?    

Life, waking up each morning knowing it’s a new opportunity. Seeing change within the community environment that we are based in. seeing Art grow in people’s hearts.      

 What has been the biggest obstacle in your career?     

My Skin colour my humble background, being stereotyped and much more, However, I always say obstacles are made to be conquered, I will happily keep hitting my head against a glass Ceiling whether it breaks or not at least I tried to make room for future generations.   

Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?     

My Spiritual guru baba ji, My dance Guru's Nilima Devi Chitra Lekha Bolar, Shiamak Daver, Chhiya Kanvatta ( they formed the pillars of my existence today ) By Sharing their knowledge and allowing me the space to grow and find my own path.     

What is the best aspect of your current role?    

The Unpredictability, no two days are the same, every day there is a new challenge, I always say if lemons are thrown at me, I should be able to make lemonade! I am privileged and blessed because I get to express my inner most thoughts and feeling through dance and creativity.  I love getting to meet people from every walk of life, which makes me appreciate people for whom they are not what they are worth.    

And the worst?    

Endless hours of work, day and night have no concept when you’re in a studio, going on stage regardless of how injured, emotionally exerted you feel, knowing the trauma you will be putting yourself through on stage (its unexplainable) Not having enough resources to help everyone.   

What are your long-term goals?    

Life is short, I keep it simple, I want to bring change to the place I love the most (Belgrave) I think My British Asian Brothers and sisters deserve more and in the process of all the blood sweat and tears on stage if I am able to open a door for even single individual it will make life's struggles seem worthwhile. I want to help create a place we can all call home in Belgrave.   

If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?     

I would give schools more money to invest into the arts. Creativity is the new currency of the future, we Need to Nourish the new generations do not diminish them.    

If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?   

The poet Kabir, "All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop" I want to immerse myself into his mind because his prospective challenged all social norm and searched for the essence of life, maybe he can help me answer the three biggest questions of my life who am I, Why am I here , and where I am going.    

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