"Heartbreaking yet uplifting" performance by Aakash Odedra

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Audience member and University of Derby graduate Lisa Judson shares her thoughts on Aakash Odedra's double-bill, 'Murmur and Inked'.

"As someone who has just graduated with a first class honours degree in Theatre Arts with Education, I’m ashamed to say that I know really very little about performance based dance as an art form. Tonight, therefore, was a complete blessing & really opened my eyes.

Aakash Odedra is one of the most gifted dancers I’ve ever seen. With a natural stage presence that is both mesmerising and charismatic, he has an agility that defies human biology!

Having only just arrived at Déda in time, I hadn’t had time to read a word about the evening’s performance, yet as the first piece unfolded, it was so descriptive, and I knew instantly what he was telling me without a single word being spoken. Now that’s extraordinary! His depiction of finding out who he was, the internal battle and frustration leading to a complete freedom of oneness with himself & his maker was remarkable. Insert a cheeky squid squirt in the middle of all of this - you had to be there - and you have a truly entertaining piece.

His second performance, Murmur, took me from tears to belly laughs in the space of 30 minutes.  His depiction of living with and embracing dyslexia was both heart-breaking yet uplifting at the same time. Having only been diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 46 myself, he took my breath away with how he managed to perfectly portray how I felt. Using a mix of multimedia, multi-cultural and multi-sensory approaches, he seemed to nail the whole gamete of living with a “diffability”. 

The use of dual languages allowed the natural cadences of sound to describe the situation with no need for an understanding of the words being spoken – so often how it feels for someone with dyslexia when sitting in the midst of a learning environment. The use of projection depicting a mixture of sound waves and moving words took my breath away with it’s simple beauty. Making clever use of this projection when coupled with distorted sound and white noise gave such an accurate sense of sensory overload that it felt like he’d climbed inside my head to show the world how my brain often feels.

The evening wasn’t all soul searching & tear jerking. There was a definite touch of the Commedia dell'arte’s for me when Aakash was buried in paper from on high making me literally laugh out loud. Mesh this with strategically placed fans and the paper vortex that was created and it could have been a visual effect straight out of my brain during the third year of my degree studies.   

The finale of this piece came with the visual addition of the release of a caged bird. Here Aakash displayed his abandon to the freedom and joy of being comfortable in his own skin. Not limited, fettered or stalled by a brain that simply works differently. Instead, embracing the blessing of being dyslexic.  Where being able to see a much bigger picture, thinking outside of the box and always searching out an alternative route to get where you need to be when convention doesn’t allow a straight path is ‘the norm’. As an educator, I simply want to show every dyslexic student I work with this perfectly liberating and beautiful statement. I came away from the performance smiling. I still am..."

Aakash Odedra performed 'Murmur and Inked' at Déda on Friday 30 January. More tour dates at http://www.aakashodedra.co.uk/calendar/

Aakash is supported by Arts Council England, Sky Academy and Curve Theatre, Leicester

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