Contemporary dance is reflective of everything that exists now. It has become a smorgasboard of possibility where all languages and customs are at immediate disposal and are juxtaposed together to the creator’s end.

Aakash Odedra will be performing Rising as part of Parramasala, at Riverside, Parramatta and holding a masterclass next Thursday 3rd of October. Aakash is classically trained in Kathak and Bharatanatyam Indian dance and has recently transitioned into contemporary performance. Rising features four solo performances, three created with his mentors, Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant.

I confess I don’t know much about this young man, but I am curious and excited to see what he, with his famous European choreographer/mentors, have produced.

I have had the unique experience of learning and performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dances for 26 years. Travelling to remote communities and being in an environment where dance is an intrinsic part of life, with an unbroken lineage of expression for thousands of years.

The dances are highly nuanced, as all dance is, reflective of everyday life and belief systems. The tilt of the head, the body bent low, the angle of the torso, the exact amount of tension in the fingers, the sound and impression in the earth you do or don’t leave behind, are all considered. Within a ‘free form’, song order and representational dance tracks are discussed and chosen live, as an intrinsic part of the event. You are placed or place yourself according to social standing and capability. Every now and then you are reminded of the honour and responsibility that comes with being a part of a long history.

When I am taught there is a right and wrong way. You learn to watch and only dance in certain contexts when you know you will do the dance justice and not dishonour it.

My contemporary work is actively reflective of my cultural training. It is loaded with images and movement logic, systems of coordination derived from a unique embodiment. As a contemporary medium I have certain flexibilities to cross gender and simultaneously enter a surreal realm, imbuing the original context with endless possibilities.

In the world of Google and YouTube we can watch cultural dances from all over the world. We can see something we like and appropriate it. What it can’t do though, is share kinaesthetic sensation. It can’t share the pride of the people who it represents, the  intimate relationship with the material, the significance to psychological well being.

The specificity of form, be it classical ballet and/or all other cultural forms offers the participant a virtual holiday to another time and place, it has the ability to transport us and to transpose us, by trying on the body postures we are dressing ourselves in another society’s beliefs and attitudes. Something mere words cannot do.

If you are quick, you can be one of the lucky few to watch and experience, as I will, a refreshing and unique kinaesthetic event.

To register for the Masterclass with Aakash Odedra this Thursday Oct 3 at Connect Studios, Parramatta click here

To Book for the performances of Rising at Riverside, Parramatta on Sat 5  and Sun 6 October click here

Image Credit: Chris Nash

by Vicki Van Hout