Aakash Odedra Company and The Spark Arts for Children come together with the British Dyslexia Association to create a new work for young audiences

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It’s Dyslexia Awareness Week and we are proud to announce our collaboration with The Spark Arts for Children in the creation of a new work for children and their families. Little Murmur is based on the true story of a child’s struggle with letters and words. Created by Leicester based award winning, Aakash Odedra Company, a company that creates boundary pushing works of art. Little Murmur is a biographical account of Artistic Director, Aakash Odedra’s trials and tribulations of seeing things differently.

It’s estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia. Even though dyslexia is classed as a learning difficulty, there is no connection between dyslexia and a person’s intelligence. The skills that people with dyslexia tend to be better at, such as creative thinking, visual awareness, problem solving, and verbal communication, tend to only be emphasised in certain areas, such as the arts and media, plus a number of scientific disciplines including physics, mathematics and computer programming.

Little Murmur is the first work from Aakash Odedra Company to be created specifically for young audiences and families. The work has been commissioned by The Spark Arts for Children through their Vital Spark programme, to address the lack of diversity in performances for young audiences so they feel represented and reflected in the arts they experience. Both in terms of the stories being told and the performers who tell those stories. Aakash described his motivation to create Little Murmur:

"I feel it’s really important to be able to engage with the younger generation because they are our future. More so with this piece because the essence of the work is about Dyslexia but it says if you’re different it doesn’t mean it’s bad, different is special, different is beautiful."

Aakash’s original work Murmur 2.0 inspired the team at The Spark Arts for Children to want to work with the company to create something new, unique and powerful specifically for children and their families to enjoy.

Adel Al-Salloum, Director of The Spark Arts for Children, said:

"I saw Aakash’s original Murmur and was blown away by it - and then I longed for it to be shared with children, for them to be able to access this story told in the most mesmerising way. Together The Spark Arts for Children and Vital Spark Artists, like Aakash Odedra Company, we make this a reality.

In life, especially over the last 18 months, we have all faced challenges to overcome the odds. That’s what makes Little Murmur feel so relevant and timely. At the same time audiences will be completely mesmerised through a spectacle of dance, humour, technology and illustration."

Little Murmur will be toured in 2022 to some theatres as well as schools, festivals, libraries and community spaces; raising the bar on the quality of work for children available in non theatre spaces.

Aakash Odedra Company has worked closely with Leicester based artists: including performer Subhash Viman Gorania, their Associate Artistic Director Kesha Raithatha and AO2 apprentice dancers Anaya Vasudha Bolar and Kalliirroi Vratti to create Little Murmur. This opportunity has given the apprentices professional experience of what it takes to create a performance and take on the role of understudy for future UK and European performances. Little Murmur is particularly relevant for Anaya Vasudha Bolar who has dyslexia and dyspraxia, she said:

"The beautiful thing about this piece is that we get to see a peak into the mind and how logic and no logic is found"

Aakash Odedra Company has been working with The British Dyslexia Associate to demystify the trials and tribulations of seeing things differently. We’ve created a series of education resources for schools and community groups to access alongside the performance.

For more information contact katie@aakashodedra.com or kim@thesparkarts.co.uk

Notes to editors

  1. Aakash Odedra Company is an award-winning international dance company inspired by South Asian and contemporary dance, based in Leicester (UK). We exist to create high quality artistic programmes that capture the zeitgeist, educating, empowering and engaging diverse, multi-lingual audiences and participants. We deliver creative experiences for audiences and participants locally and internationally; diversity is integral to all our work. 2. Born in Birmingham and living in Leicester, Aakash Odedra is a globally recognised dancer and choreographer. His work forms the heart of Aakash Odedra Company. Our studios are based in Belgrave, in the heart of Leicester’s international communities. We deliver programmes that widen participation with early years, older people and those facing additional disadvantage including social barriers and disabilities. Working with Shiamak International and Moving Together we deliver an extensive programme of recreational and educational dance classes to people across the Midlands and London. Aakash Odedra is an Associate Artist at Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome. Aakash Odedra Company is a National Partner Organisation of Sadler’s Wells and one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2021.
    Facebook & Twitter: @aakashodedra
    Instagram & Youtube: @aakashodedracompany
    2. The Spark Arts for Children is a children’s art organisation. Extraordinary experiences for children, sparking creativity and change. The Spark gives children opportunities to immerse themselves in the arts. They offer children spaces to discover their own skills, passions and potential, as audience, participants and creators of their own work. They do this through commissioning and producing high quality, diverse and innovative programmes; organising a bold and imaginative children’s arts festival and by championing cultural education activity.
    3. Vital Spark was born in 2018 to address the lack of diversity in the Performance for Young Audiences (PYA) sector. Through development opportunities, and the commissioning and production of new work, The Spark support artists who are currently underrepresented in the PYA sector; and in turn, these artists support The Spark in their ambition to be a more inclusive organisation.
    4. Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. By 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help deliver this vision. Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council has developed a £160 million emergency response package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. artscouncil.org.uk.


The Spark Arts Festival 2018, image by Pamela Raith Photography

Subhash Viman Gorania performing Little Murmur, image by Matt Cawrey

Listen to Aakash and Adel talk about the collaboration and Little Murmur in their BBC Radio Leicester Interview below.