That’s a wrap: a look back at our year

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We’ve had a very busy 2019 which has seen the company grow quite drastically in the number of staff and projects we’ve delivered. Read on to experience the top moments of 2019 through our eyes.

#1 World premiere of Samsara

Possibly the biggest moment of this year was the announcement of our new dance production called Samsara – choreographed and performed by Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan.

Samsara, inspired by the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, traces the steps we take, both forward and backward, in search of our higher selves. Drawing on thinking and imagery at the heart of Buddhist philosophy, it explores some of the 81 obstacles and six states of mind that can hold us back.

Epic mythological storytelling merges with personal experience and anecdote from two globally opposite perspectives, in a highly visual landscape.

Samsara has been made possible by the generous support of the Bagri Foundation, a family foundation 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.”

Tickets are available for the world premiere of Samsara on the Asia Topa website.

#2 Rising marked 200th performance

Rising, our debut production, reached yet another remarkable milestone this year, marking an astonishing 200th performance. The production has won numerous awards including ‘Audience Award’ at Dance Week (Croatia) and ‘Most Original Exploration of One Segment of Theatrical Language’ at the Novi-Sad Festival (Serbia) since its premiere back in 2012.

Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Aakash himself, Rising is an astonishing hit which captured the hearts and minds of many fans in hundreds of countries across four continents.

In this dance production, Aakash explores different processes and aesthetics to create a new personal language through the work of four separate dance pieces.

Watch this documentary showing the process of developing Rising with interviews and rehearsal footage leading up to its premiere.

#3 Aakash Odedra 2

Following our commitment to creating dance education opportunities available more widely, we were excited to launch Aakash Odedra 2 in the Summer.

The company offers a unique opportunity for young dancers aged 14-25 to work closely with Aakash Odedra within the context of an international touring company, whilst focusing on professional development and honing artistic style through a tailored learning programme.

Get to know and connect with our dancers on the Aakash Odedra 2 web page.

#4 #JeSuis marked its 50th performance

This year, besides Rising, we had another work reaching an incredible milestone.

#JeSuis marked its 50th performance during our European tour in Germany. We showcased #JeSuis in cities such as Edinburgh, Leicester, Birmingham, London, Cambridge, Schweinfurt, Offenburg, Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Wolfenbüttel, Fürth, Montreal, Abu Dhabi and many others.

#JeSuis began as a series of conversations about political freedom and the right to self-expression in countries with oppressive regimes during a dance workshop in Instanbul in 2012.

Through these conversations with local dancers, Aakash envisaged #JeSuis as a touching dance-theatre piece that would tell the stories of individuals struggling to find freedom.

After its world debut in 2017 in Edinburgh, #JeSuis has won numerous awards including the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and ‘Best Dance’ at the Eastern Eye ACTA.

#5 Shiamak Davar’s visit to Leicester

July was a busy month for us, especially when the world-famous dance choreographer Shiamak Davar visited Leicester to meet with our students enrolled in Shiamak dance classes.

For many people, Shiamak’s visit to Leicester was a unique opportunity to see the Bollywood legend live on stage, take a picture with him and tell all their friends about this extraordinary moment.

It was also a once in a lifetime opportunity for many parents and students to ask Shiamak all kinds of personal questions and get inspired by his journey to becoming one of the Bollywood’s greatest stars.

You can see photos of his visit on our Facebook page.

#6 Dance for Diabetes success

Conceptualised in partnership with Moving Together, Shiamak UK, Aakash Odedra Company and Leicester Diabetes Centre, the Dance for Diabetes project proved to be a successful community initiative.

The project delivered a series of interactive workshops aimed to contribute to the prevention of diabetes and support those living with diabetes.

Our first group of participants were incredibly positive and energetic who attended weekly sessions over 12 weeks. Each session was led by a Shiamak UK dance instructor, followed by an informative session with a health practitioner from Leicester Diabetes Centre.

The project spanned across six months, including recruitment, session delivery and evaluation. After the great success of the pilot scheme, we have added two additional venues across Leicester.

#7 New parents and tots classes

The success of our existing parents and tots class in Leicester has seen the creation of a further three classes in Birmingham, Coventry and Milton Keynes. The classes are aimed at parents and children aged 2 -4 years to promote bonding, cognitive development body awareness, rhythm, confidence, social skills and numeracy. The new classes will start in January 2020 and will be delivered by a Shiamak trained instructor.


Next year will be packed with even more memorable events that we can’t wait to share with you. The world premiere of Samsara, the development of our education programmes and our Shiamak classes will continue to spread the love and joy of dance throughout the UK.

These and many other events will make 2020 an incredible year for us, so make sure you subscribe to our Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter accounts to share this journey with us.