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‘Samsara’ – Aakash Odedra ambitious new dance work in the UK; Amina Khayyam pushes boundaries and other new dance compositions head to Edinburgh Festivals…

‘Samsara’ – Aakash Odedra ambitious new dance work in the UK; Amina Khayyam pushes boundaries and other new dance compositions head to Edinburgh Festivals…

There’s a busy dance programme around South Asian forms and an exciting and varied series, both at the main Edinburgh International Festival and the fringe…

By Mamie Colfox

ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of this year’s dance in Edinburgh will be Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan’s ‘Samsara’.
Inspired by the 16th century novel, ‘Journey to the West’ by Wu Cheng’en, it tells the story of a legendary pilgrimage from China to India undertaken by a monk, Xuanzang, in search of the spirit and teachings of the Buddha.
The novel is regarded as a Chinese literature classic and is often posited as responsible for inspiring many to undertake the same journey in search of enlightenment and spiritual awakening.
Odedra is one of the finest exponents of Kathak dance and has a wide repertoire, having performed for more than a decade all over the world and been the subject of much acclaim. He last spoke to here. Hu Shenyuan is also a highly regarded Chinese classical dancer, appearing most prominently in ‘Under Siege’ in Yang Liping’s piece, attracting global attention and plaudits. Odedra saw the piece in 2016 and impressed and inspired by it, reached out to Shenyuan, meeting him in Shanghai a year later and deciding to work with him on an original piece. The pair have no other mutual language other than that of dance to communicate.
The piece takes place in a desert landscape with eerie human statues and explores a mythic world – where ideas of culture and faith are exchanged. There is Mongolian throat singing, Chinese percussion and a powerful score by well-known Indian classical composer, vocalist and longtime Odedra collaborator, Nikki Wells.
Directed by Odedra with dramaturgy by Lou Cope, it is being performed in the UK for the first time and after Edinburgh International Festival goes to The Curve, Leicester and then London’s Sadler’s Wells. The work is supported by the Bagri Foundation. ‘Samsara’ enjoyed its world premiere in Sydney in March 2020 just before the onset of the global pandemic.

‘Samsara’ – August 18-20, The Lyceum, 30b Grindlay Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AX.

Following productions are in chronological order…

‘One’ – Amina Khayyam – Dance to the music of time Kathak style among several…

Amina Khayyam ‘One’

MIGRANTS and refugees might not be the first thing you associate with Indian classical dance but it’s a sign of just how some choreographers are pushing boundaries and expectations.
Choreographer Amina Khayyam presents her show, ‘One’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It begins today (August 5).
Acclaimed as one of Indian Kathak dance’s most progressive performers, Khayyam uses cyclic phenomenon through classical dance to highlight modern stories.
These groups have often suffered inaccurate representations at the hands of the mass media and politicians. Khayyam’s dance aims to show the beat of cyclic time with a beginning but no end, and how both groups are connected to each other and form what some might see as a consistent pattern.

One’, August 5-10, Dance Base Studio 1, 14-16 Grassmarket, EH1 2JU

‘The Chosen Haram’- Two ‘Chinese poles’, Islam and the flight of imagination

AWARD-WINNING queer circus show ‘The Chosen Haram‘, from Edinburgh-born artist Sadiq Ali, follows two gay men and the obstacles they must face and overcome.
Performed on two Chinese poles, this is a unique and complex take on a circus, accompanied by a mix of love, drugs and Islam. Haram means ‘forbidden’ in orthodox Islam.

‘The Chosen Haram’, August 5-27, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL (9pm)

One Arrival’- Religious differences explored

A DOUBLE BILL of a dance show delving into the poetry of Sufi mystic Bulleh Shah (1680-1757) will search for the divine.
Performed by Gaurav Bhatti and Vikram Lyengar, this is an exploration of faith and difference in the first part, One.
Shah was a beacon of hope in times of religious strife between Muslims and Sikhs in the Punjab and the second part, Arrival, will focus on the Bangla saying “there’s as many paths as there are perspectives”.

‘One Arrival’, August 5-14, Dance Base Studio 3, 14-16 Grassmarket, EH1
2JU (2pm)

‘Rhythms of India’- Indian dance available online

STORYTELLING through complex footwork set to rhythmic music choreographed by Dr Radha Krishnan, Arabhi Krishnan and students.
This performance will be available for free On Demand at Fringe Online and there isn’t any more info.(see listing link below).

‘The Ticking Clock’- Climate change crisis given imaginative expression

TAKING the Climate Clock installation in New York as its starting point – this dance explores concepts of nature and the environmental peril facing us all, using dance as a way to communicate threat and danger.
The clock shows how much time there is left before climate change becomes irreversible. Most scientists say that global average temperatures exceeding 1.5C will lead to environmental catastrophe but if the world can reduce carbon emissions and the warming of our atmosphere below this figure, by 2050, we can all literally breathe a little better.
The countdown is the main piece for the performance, suggesting a critical urgency that shouldn’t be ignored.

‘The Ticking Clock’, August 13 and August 20, The Space Triplex, The Prince Phillip Building, EH8 9DP (1.50pm and 2.15pm)

‘In/Out of Bounds’- What is the new normal?

A CROSS-CULTURAL dance show inspired by the challenges of covid-19 brings Indian and Chinese dance together as conceived by local Edinburgh artists and illuminates empowerment and resilience.
The performance aims to use these different dance forms as a collective power, venturing into uncertainty and flourishing in our new normal.

‘In/Out of Bounds’, August 15-20, Greenside, Riddles Court, EH1 2PG

‘Across an Irish Indian Sea’- Irish and Kathak dance combine

FOLK song ‘The Water is Wide‘ forms the inspiration for this Irish and North Indian Kathak dance. Both the Irish dance company Absolutely Legless and Kathak Balbir Singh Dance Company were the highlight of Sharjah Cultural Festival in the UAE and appeared on Al Jazeera TV with folk band The United Folk.

Across an Irish Indian Sea’, August 27-28 (8.30pm), Acoustic Music Centre, 14
Royal Terrace, EH7 5AB

Lead picture: Akash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan (Aakash Odedra Dance Company), picture by Nirvair Singh

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture