TEDx Leicester by Leah Edwards
Aakash was born in Birmingham and trained in the classical Indian dance styles of Kathak (Nilima Devi, Leicester and Asha Joglekar, India) and Bharat Natyam (Chitraleka Bolar, Birmingham and Chhaya Kantaveh, India). His early development in the United Kingdom saw support from Sampad (including support in a development bursary) and Akademi (through a major choreographic bursary). In 2009, Aakash performed a solo choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia titled ‘Maati Re’ at the Svapngata Festival at Sadler’s Wells curated by Akram Khan. Khan followed this with a period of mentorship, allowing Aakash to develop contemporary movement. He took part in the European Network of Performing Arts’ 2010 ChoreoLab in Serbia through Dance Umbrella. Also in 2010, he performed a duet with Sanjukta Sinha choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia titled ‘Tatha’, He incorporates that training in a unique synthesis with contemporary dance, both in his choreography and his creations with other choreographers.
Aakash formed Aakash Odedra Company in 2011 as a vehicle for commissioning solos and for Aakash to develop his own choreographic work. His debut full-length solo Rising featured new short works created on him by Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant. As a choreographer he was commissioned to create a piece for James Brown: Get on the Good Foot (Apollo Theater, New York) and the Opera God’s Little Soldier (Theater Freiburg), The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the closing of the London Cultural Olympiad. Aakash has received numerous awards and bursaries, a Danza&Danza award (Italy), a Dora performance award (Canada), Audience Award Dance Week 2013 (Croatia), Infant Award 2014 (Serbia), Bessie Award (Best Male Performer, 2014) and a Sky Academy Arts Scholarship. In May 2014 Aakash Odedra Company presented Murmur (with Lewis Major and Ars Electronica Futurelab) and Inked (by Damien Jalet) at International Dance Festival Birmingham and in the same year was commissioned by the Royal Ballet for the Deloitte season. The company’s third production ‘Echoes (Aditi Mangaldas) and I Imagine (in collaboration with Sabrina Mahfouz and David Poznanter’) premiered at Curve Theatre in October 2016. In 2017 Aakash choreographed for the Royal Opera House production ‘Sukanya’ composed by the late great Pt Ravi Shankar and acted as movement director for Curve Theatre’s ‘Pink Sari Revolution’.
During 2017 Aakash was conducting research for his first group ensemble. Titled #JeSuis, the work in progress version of the work was taken to Edinburgh Fringe International where the production won The Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. The show fully premiered in February 2018 at New York University Abu Dhabi followed by Birmingham’s Patrick Centre where the piece won its second award as ‘Best Dance’ at the Eastern Eye ACTA Awards 2018 and was followed by a nomination for ‘Best Stage Production’ at the Asian Media Awards in Manchester.
Subhash is a cutting-edge, British choreographer and dancer. Shifting deftly between Indian classical, urban and contemporary dance, Subhash combines seamless movement with a dose of provocative humour, giving his work an unorthodox and quirky edge. His immersion in a rich plethora of dance training feeds a wide range of movement vocabulary into to his choreographic work, with characteristic physicality, floor work, swift spins, humorous gesture and expression. He trained in Bharatanatyam from Chitraleka Bolar (UK) & Chaaya Kanavate (India) and Kathak from Nilima Devi MBE (UK) & Asha Joglaker (India).
His performance credits include the award-winning production The Troth - Usne Kaha Tha, produced by Akademi and choreographed by Gary Clarke, winning the Herald Angel Award from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018. He performed in the Bessie award-winning choreography 'Ecstasy' for the German tour of 'Get on the Good Foot' produced by Apollo Theatre in NY and in Kiran Nagarkar’s novel, God’s Little Soldier produced by Theatre Freiburg, Germany. For his company, Morph Dance Company he has created his own contemporary work, Gamechanger & Classic Encounters.
Meera is a Kathak dance artist. Previously training at CICD in Leicester, she now trains and teaches at Pagrav Dance Company (PDC).
Meera performs regularly with PDC and as an independent artist. Her recent work includes PDC's ‘Kattam Katti', performer in ‘Hanuman Tales’, choreographer/performer in ReRooted Dance Collective’s ‘Geometer’ and residency at Chisenhale Dance Space.
Keen to expand her choreography practice, Meera is a co-founder of ReRooted Dance Collective, was part of Siobhan Davies Dance (SDD)’s Next Choreography 2018/19 cohort and is now a member of SDD’s Young Artist Collective. Through these opportunities she has choreographed and presented work at venues across London.
Much of Meera’s current practice focuses on understanding and opening up the boundaries of kathak by recontextualising it’s historical origins and using it as a tool to explore embodied experience of human events in modern contexts. Meera’s exploration is driven by the physiological responses to these events.
Kesha started her training in Kathak with the well-known pioneering Kathak exponent and Guru, Nilima Devi (MBE) at CICD at the age of 8. She has accompanied Nilima Devi and CICD in various productions such as ‘Vyom’, ‘Christmas Gala’, ‘Uttsava Festival’, ‘Nartan’, ‘South Asian Arts Festival’ and various showcase performances. While training with Nilima Devi, Kesha also achieved her foundation level of ISTD grades in Kathak Dance.
Kesha has since had the opportunity to study with several legendary teachers, including Smt. Daksha Sheth of the Daksha Sheth Dance Company in Kerala; Dr. Maya Rao of the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography in Bangalore; Mayuri Upadhya of the Nritarutya contemporary dance company and is currently under the tutelage of renowned dance exponent Smt. Nirupama Rajendra of Abhinava Dance Company in Bangalore. Kesha has also trained in Kalaripayattu with Ranjan Mullarat and Daksha Sheth.
As an artist, Kesha has performed at several prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, the House of Commons and at events such as Her Majesty’s Royal Diamond Jubilee Pageant and China Arts Festival.
In addition, Kesha has significant teaching and choreographic experience gained in the UK. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards for her contribution to the community through cultural dance performance and activity.
Kesha is an honours graduate of Graphic Design from Nottingham Trent University and in addition to her love for dance also enjoys performing in short films, writing, sourcing costumes and researching design concepts for productions.
She is the first person in the UK to graduate in South Asian dance from De Montfort University. She enjoys teaching and choreographing and is one of the dedicated teachers of CICD. She has given a lot of contribution for South Asian dance within the community of East Midlands and beyond.
Initially trained in Kathak dance with the well known pioneering Kathak artist Nilima Devi, MBE, in the UK. She then won a scholarship to study Kathak at the Kadamb Institute in Ahmedabad, India under Smt. Kumudini Lakhia.
Shivani has performed with various dance companies including the Nilima Devi Dance Company, Yuva- National South Asian Dance Company, Nahid Siddique Company and Kadamb (India). She has also performed in various dance productions organised by Sampad in the UK, including 'Dounia' and a silent piece choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas. In addition, she has trained with and performed with Aakash Odedra. Most recently Shivani has been a member of the Compagnia Teatrale Klesidra Roma, in the all-female cast performing Shakespeare's Racconto D'inverno and King Cymbeline directed by Imogen Kusch.
Nayana received her Diploma in Kathak Dance from CICD. She has toured and performed extensively in Leicester and other parts of the UK. She is a graceful dancer and developed many folk dances with her students and performed at various festivals, community functions all over the UK, Ireland and India.
Vina began her training with Nilima Devi and later with many teachers from the UK and India. She has founded her own company called Manushi and has been teaching, performing and choreographing South Asian dance for the past twenty years. She is an experienced teacher who delivers dance workshops to various groups in the community, schools and colleges. She has performed nationally and internationally with Manushi Dance Company.
CICD also recognizes students who have studied kathak and have since moved on to other mainstream professions. To name some of the few are Gita Lakhlani, Nimisha Patel, Shivani Satya, Dimple Zavery, Bhavita Jethwa, Hans Varun, Martin Amresh, Viren Mehta, Jagruti Gohil, Lisa Surti, Shilpa Pancholi, Sheetal & Swati Purohit.