Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan collaborate on Samsara

Published: 3 August 2019
Reporter: Vera Liber

Hu Shenyuan in Under Siege Credit: Ding Yi Jie

Aakash Odedra Company's next major project, Samsara, will be a collaboration between Aakash Odedra, known for both his Kathak performances and his contemporary choreography, and Hu Shenyuan, who appeared in Yang Liping’s Under Siege at Sadler’s Wells in 2016.

Samsara was inspired by Wu Cheng'en’s 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. It is supported by the Bagri Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Asia.

Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation, said, “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.”

Anand Bhatt, Aakash Odedra Company’s producer, added, “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.”

Samsara was co-commissioned by two theatres at which Aakash Odedra is Associate Artist: Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome.

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome, said, “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 from 5 to 7 March 2020 followed by its Chinese première later that month. It will première and tour in the UK from June 2020.