Aakash Odedra Company and Bagri Foundation announce 

25 Jul 2019

A major international dance collaboration between two extraordinary soloists

World premiere: Asia TOPA Festival in Melbourne, 5 to 7 March 2020
Chinese premiere: Shanghai International Dance Center, March 2020
UK premiere and tour: opens June 2020

Aakash Odedra Company has announced its next major project, Samsara, a collaboration between Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan, two of the finest exponents of culturally-specific dance forms from their countries of origin, India and China, on the world stage.

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 when he appeared in Yang Liping’s Under Siege at Sadler’s Wells in 2016.

Samsara is inspired by Wu Cheng’en’s classic 16th century Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’ which depicts the journey of Buddhist philosophy from India to China, in turn inspired by the real life monk Xuanzang who undertook a pilgrimage in the 7th century.  The story of cultural exchange and common philosophy will be key to Odedra and Shenyuan’s interpretation.
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.

Alka Bagri, Trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “To be able to support two extremely talented dancers and choreographers as part of this one-of-a-kind commission is a real privilege. With our aim at the Foundation to support new generations of talent that celebrate traditional Asian arts in a contemporary way, this felt like a perfect fit. We have been able to see this collaboration come together over the past year and are extremely excited to help bring this story to the world stage.”

Anand Bhatt, Aakash Odedra Company’s producer, says: “When two exceptional dancers like Aakash and Hu make a decision to work together, it really feels like you had the best day in the office. This very special project exemplfies the creative case for diversity. Aakash and Hu will work with exceptional collaborators and we are very excited by the range of international and home partners and supporters engaging with us. In particular support from London-based Bagri Foundation has enabled us to work with exceptional artistic collaborators and given us technical resources we would not otherwise have had. Our other partners in England include Arts Council England, Curve in Leicester (always special as it is where we started and we are based in the City); Birmingham Hippodrome (Aakash’s original home town) and the Royal Ballet in London.”

Samsara is co-commissioned by Curve, Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome.  Aakash Odedra is Associate Artist at both venues.

Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Curve, say: “We are delighted to support Aakash and his team in this new production. Aakash has long been part of the fabric of Curve as an Associate Artist and we are really excited about this inspiring collaboration by these exceptionally talented artists which our audiences here in Leicester can enjoy here at Curve in 2020.”

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome added: “We’re incredibly excited about this new collaboration, which will appear in Birmingham as one of the signature artistic works of the China West Midlands 2020 programme. Having supported Aakash’s most recent international work #JeSuis, which enjoyed great success in the UK and beyond, we are delighted to see one of our Associate Artists take another step forward with this new production.”

Samsara will open at Asia TOPA Festival in Melbourne on 5 to 7 March 2020 followed by its Chinese premiere later that month. It will premiere and tour in the UK from June 2020.

See the Samsara trailer here: