Choreography: Aakash Odedra, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Music by: Jocelyn Pook, Andy Cowton and Olga Wojcieowska
Lighting: Michael Hulls and Willy Cessa
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
A solo dance show performed against pre-recorded music does not sound appealing; if nothing else you’d expect it to lack variety. This is one of a number of assumptions about Rising that turns out to be dead wrong.
Rather than attempt to tell a story or convey a mood Kathak dancing follows a progression in tempo from slow to fast, ending with a dramatic climax. Nritta, choreographed and with droning Eastern music arranged by sole performer Aakash Odedra, opens reflectively with the dancer greeting the rising sun. Yet the lasting impression is that of blinding speed and pinpoint precision. Dressed in a full-length white robe Odedra sets a rapid rhythm by stamping his bare feet. The trunk of his body remains erect rarely bending at any point.
Children use the trail set by sparklers to draw patterns in the air and the speed with which Odedra whips his arms has the same effect. The dramatic movements are so swift as to bring to mind martial arts and combat poses. Odedra’s face remains immobile and serene as if the dance serves a meditative purpose even towards the end when he performs a series of ecstatic leaps and spins.
In the Shadow of Man, choreographed by Akram Khan, is a complete contrast. Michael Hull’s lighting creates a twilight world in which Odedra can be glimpsed dancing between spotlights. It is hard to avoid the impression of a restrained beast or prisoner under duress in this deeply disturbing dance. The opening comprises little more than Odedra’s shoulder muscles contorting and flexing to Jocelyn Pook’s pulsing electronic score. The poses adopted during Odedra’s agonised dance border on the grotesque leaving you with the uncomfortable feeling that you have inadvertently wandered into a freak show.
Hull’s lighting is even more extreme for Russell Maliphant’s Cut which, mercifully, has the suggestion of a degree of escape. Against Andy Cowton’s industrial sounding score Odedra flickers in and out of spotlights with only parts of his limbs- primarily the hands and arms – illuminated and fully visible. This leads to a startling conclusion with Odedra breaking through to the light.
Odedra ‘s dancing in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Constellation is the closest he comes all night to a conventional style. In a fairy tale setting of light bulbs representing planets Odedra pirouettes lightly between the worlds.
Rising is a complete surprise and a breathtaking introduction to a form of dance that is exciting and engrossing.
Reviewed on 28th November 2014