7th November 2023

PRO GATI: Who needs Dance Producers? Round Table

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This round table examines the challenges and opportunities for South Asian dancers to work with professional producers and develop skills required to produce their own work.

The provocateurs for this session are independent dance producer Sarah Shead, dance artists Aakash Odedra and Divya Ravi. Join the provocateurs, alongside Chair Paul Russ, CEO of FABRIC in what we are sure will be a highly animated conversation.

Aakash Odedra

Aakash, born in Birmingham, trained in Kathak and Bharatanatyam, blending classical Indian dance with contemporary movement under mentors like Akram Khan. In 2011, he founded Aakash Odedra Company, a platform for commissioned solos and his choreographic work. His debut solo, Rising, featured pieces by Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Russell Maliphant. As a sought-after choreographer, he created works for Apollo Theater, New York, Theater Freiburg, and the London Cultural Olympiad. Aakash garnered awards like Danza&Danza (Italy), Dora performance (Canada), and a Bessie Award for Best Male Performer (2014). His company presented Murmur and Inked in 2014 and premiered Echoes and I Imagine in 2016. In 2017, he choreographed for the Royal Opera House’s ‘Sukanya’ and served as movement director for Curve Theatre’s ‘Pink Sari Revolution.’

In 2017, Aakash began research for his group ensemble, #JeSuis, addressing contemporary issues. The work won the Amnesty International Award at the Edinburgh Fringe International and premiered in 2018 at New York University Abu Dhabi, winning Best Dance at the Eastern Eye ACTA Awards. The production earned a nomination for Best Stage Production at the Asian Media Awards in Manchester. His current works “Samsara” and “Little Murmur” are on tour within the UK and outside to critical acclaim. Aakash continues to be a prominent figure in the global dance scene, seamlessly blending traditional and contemporary forms in his evocative choreography.

Divya Ravi

Divya Ravi is a Bharatanatyam performing artiste, choreographer and educator. Her virtuosic yet sensitive performance-immersions are a product of rigor, conviction, ownership of the movement vocabulary, and innate musicality. Her choreographic practice is driven by a keen interest in translating the lyrical, the poetic and the abstract, into gestures, emotions, and experiences. Divya’s critically acclaimed solo works have been presented to full houses and sold-out theatres in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Hong Kong, UK and China. Backed by rigorous formative training in India for over 2 decades, Divya now expands her practice in the UK, mentored by Mavin Khoo. She has worked with Akram Khan Company, Dance East, Akademi, SAMPAD, and is the Lead Tutor for CAT Yuva Gati. Her work has been supported by Arts Council England.

Paul Russ

Paul Russ is Artistic Director and Chief Executive of FABRIC, the dance development organisation operating in the Midlands, UK. This is a new organisation formed by the merger of Dance4 in Nottingham and DanceXchange in Birmingham, in 2022. Paul holds responsibility for the strategic and artistic direction of FABRIC, including the realisation of Nottdance and Birmingham International Dance festival, in addition to a wide range of artist and art form development programmes and strategic training and engagement activities.

Since studying Contemporary Dance and Performance at Nottingham Trent University, Paul has worked in several roles as dance professional, from programmer, educator, funder, commissioner and producer, for organisations including Arts Council England, Cambsdance, Birmingham Rep, Audiences Central, The Old Town Hall Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse. Paul is currently a non-Executive Director of Gary Clarke Company, Sick Festival and Dance Hub Birmingham CIC.

These round tables are a strand of PRO GATI, a 15-month programme produced by Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage to upskill and engage with the South Asian dance sector made possible with funding from Dance Hub Birmingham