Birmingham Hippodrome Associate Company, Aakash Odedra Company Presents The European Premiere Of Samsara

Aakash Odedra Company’s next major project, Samsara, a collaboration between Odedra and Hu Shenyuan, will receive its European premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome on Thursday 11 June as part of Birmingham International Dance Festival.

Aakash Odedra Company are a Birmingham Hippodrome Associate Company. The Hippodrome Associates programme supports exciting established artists and companies to achieve their artistic ambitions by helping them to develop their work into a larger scale, explore new areas of practice and reach new and wider audiences.

Odedra and Shenyuan are two of the world’s finest exponents of culturally-specific dance forms from their countries of origin, India and China.

Samsara takes as its starting point Wu Cheng’en’s 16th century Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’, one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. It tells the story of the legendary pilgrimage to India undertaken by the monk Xuanzang returning to China with the central tracts of Buddhist philosophy. Many monks followed in Xuanzang’s footsteps and their journeys were both literal and metaphorical, physical and spiritual.

Odedra and Shenyuan created Samsara with no spoken language in common. As both choreographers and performers, they stage this story of cultural exchange and shared philosophy in

a desert landscape peopled with eerie human statues, created by set designer Tina Tzoka. Yaron Abulafia’s lighting conjures a mythic world which the two dancers enter and explore, first swathed in dark monks’ habits, then pale golden robes, designed by K H Lee. They eventually meet in a series of exquisitely-patterned virtuoso duets of challenge, reflection and exchange. Figures in the shadows sing traditional Mongolian chants while a drummer adds visceral percussive power. The specially-commissioned score is by Odedra’s regular collaborator Nicki Wells with dramaturgy by Lou Cope.

Odedra has attracted global attention for both his virtuoso Kathak performances and his contemporary choreography. One of the outstanding dancers of his generation in China, Shenyuan was the standout performer in Yang Liping’s Under Siege at Sadler’s Wells in 2016.

Samsara has been made possible by the generous support of the Bagri Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Asia. Aiming to challenge, engage and inspire, it gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage and supports a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures.

Aakash Odedra Company’s Samsara will receive its European premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome on Thursday 11 June as part of Birmingham International Dance Festival.

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