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The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi present three solo dance works with acclaimed dancer Aakash Odedra in collaboration with Louvre Abu Dhabi.

UAE premiere of three solo pieces by world-renowned choreographers Aditi Mangaldas, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Russell Maliphant reconfirm The Arts Center’s commitment to the performing arts.

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will present an evening of contemporary dance featuring three distinct solos performed by Aakash Odedra on Wednesday, February 23 at 7:30pm at Louvre Abu Dhabi, in collaboration with Louvre Abu Dhabi’s  free admission Lates series.

The UAE premieres of three solo pieces, EchoesCUT, and Constellations, are choreographed by world-renowned choreographers, Aditi Mangaldas, Russell Maliphant, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Each work explores different processes and aesthetics using Odedra’s background in traditional Indian dance styles, kathak and bharatanatyam, to create a distinct flavor of contemporary dance. 

Presented in partnership with UK-UAE Cultural Professionals Connect, a grant program funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, the performances are delivered in partnership with the British Council in the UAE to foster international mobility, networking and creative exchanges through arts and culture.

Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYUAD Bill Bragin, commented:

Aakash Odedra was one of the first artists we invited to perform at The Arts Center. He’s been a significant recurring guest ever since, including being at the center of the first university course at NYUAD designed around an artist residency. This course was built on the creation and world premiere of his first group choreography, #JeSuis, which he choreographed but didn’t perform himselfThis solo program returns Odredra to the stage with three pieces that beautifully showcase his graceful, athletic, and emotionally resonant performances.

Odedra said: “I’m delighted to be given another opportunity to explore innovative ways to showcase contemporary dance in the UAE. Having performed live at The Arts Center and worked with NYUAD in a virtual residency, I am constantly learning and evolving along with my audience. After a long period of lockdown I am excited to return to Abu Dhabi to share works choreographed on me by Aditi Mangaldas, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Russell Maliphant who have all pushed me into new areas of exploration and play. Working in the juxtaposition of tradition and contemporary intellect and instinct excites me, and I look forward to sharing this passion with The Arts Center audience at Louvre Abu Dhabi.”

Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi Manuel Rabaté said: “Louvre Abu Dhabi is excited to be collaborating once again with NYU Abu Dhabi to bring an evening of contemporary dance as part of our LATES series. This special event will aim to raise awareness of and spotlight performing arts in the region, and we are delighted to take part in that conversation. This event is a celebration of the continuous growth and evolution of the UAE’s cultural ecosystem and underlines Louvre Abu Dhabi’s role as a convener of people of all backgrounds while also providing a platform that aids in highlighting the artistic expressions of communities in this region.

Building on The Arts Center’s commitment to dance as an integral part of its programing, these key works by world-renowned contemporary choreographers created for one of the most talented British South Asian dancers of his generation, form the perfect platform for Odedra’s mesmerizing agility and the maturity gained from a decade of developing his craft.

In Echoes, choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas, bells become a metaphor of resonance and freedom, awakening us to the now. A constant companion throughout every Indian classical dancer’s life, in Echoes the bells break from tradition and ritual to be fully alive in the present.

The evening’s second performance is CUT, which sees choreographer Russell Maliphant use elements familiar to Odedra from his Indian background in kathak and bharatnatyam dance. Maliphant shapes these dynamics into a world where lights cut and highlight the movement, creating an industrial, contained world that expresses its own logic of flow and form. Maliphant worked alongside the lighting designer Michael Hulls and composer Andy Cowton, with whom he has a long creative history. CUT is the result of this collaboration.

Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Constellations closes out the evening and plays with themes of lightning and thunder, and the illusions of distance and nearness they convey in a sky that deceptively appears as a constant. Cherkaoui has long been fascinated by these ideas, and through this performance seeks to highlight different patterns of sound and sources of light that together create a constellation where things are at once held in suspense and in movement by each other’s gravitational fields. All this is done with and through Odedra as the locus, the astral body that generates its own rhythms and luminosity.

Born in the UK, Aakash Odedra has performed over 300 full-length performances in 40 countries. As a choreographer, he has created pieces for Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the closing of the London Cultural Olympiad. He was recently honored by The Queen as he received his British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2020 New Year Honors List.

Odedra has been a frequent performer at The Arts Center since its inaugural season. He performed Murmur 2.0 in 2016, and the Aakash Odedra Company performed the world premiere of #JeSuis, co-commissioned by The Arts Center, in 2018, and both of which were reprised in online presentations in November 2020. He has taught numerous classes, from dance technique to talks destigmatizing dyslexia, neurodivergence and other learning disabilities.