Towards the end of 2021 Aakash Odedra Company embarked on a creative programme with Australian partners, STRUT Dance and Lewis Major projects. This project saw Aakash and the partners work over several weeks with four Australian choreographers: Isha Sharvani; Adrianne Semmens; Xin Ong; and Sarah Chaffey, to provide a programme of artist development/research and digital creation. The purpose was to give Australian artists multiple opportunities to engage with and be inspired by Aakash’s practice, both in person and digitally, and for Aakash to connect deeply with contemporary Australian dance-makers and artists.
Aakash introduced the roots of his movement style, exploring Kathak’s rhythmic qualities and detailed his personal dance language, a unique fusion of traditional Indian and contemporary Western styles. Together, the five artists explored influences of their individual heritage and cultural practices on their creative practice. They also discussed, with input from workshop facilitators, Simon Sharkey and Keshav Gupta, the effects of changing environments specifically in UK, Australia and India, and how art can be used as a catalyst in exposing environmental issues.
Dance Film Dance Plus was born of this programme. Following these insightful and fascinating workshops, Aakash Odedra Company commissioned the four Australian artists, Xin, Sarah, Adrianne and Isha, mentored by Deborah May, Adelina Larsson and Lewis Major, to make short dance films inspired by the cultural, heritage and environmental discoveries they had explored. These commissions have been supported by the British Council and the Australian Government as part of the UK/Australia Season.
We are proud to release these four films for Dance Film Dance Plus on Saturday 12 March, here on our website. Following their release, Aakash Odedra Company will hold a livestreamed Q&A on Tuesday 15 March at 9am on Facebook Live and our website, giving viewers around the world the opportunity to pose their questions to the choreographers.
Watch the films on our website from Saturday 12 March.
Tune into the live Q&A session at 9am on Tuesday 15 March.
If you would like to submit a question for the Q&A, please email firstname.lastname@example.org before Tuesday 15 March.
Adrianne Semmens is a dance practitioner with experience working across the arts, education and community sectors. A descendant of the Barkindji People of NSW, Adrianne is a dancer and creative collaborator with the South Australian First Nations Dance Collective, led by Artistic Director Gina Rings and is currently an Associate Artist with Australian Dance Theatre (ADT).
Identity and place continue to be reoccurring themes within Adrianne’s practice, evident in her work Immerse, commissioned by ADT as part of their 2021 Convergence season. Other choreographic works include Thread (2020), a short solo work created in collaboration with ADT for The World’s Smallest Stage and ‘Unravelling’ as part of Dance Epidemic (2018), for Panpapanalya, Joint Dance Congress.
Adrianne has also enjoyed performing in Inma (2021 award winning collaboration between Electric Fields, Iwiri and SA First Nations Dance Collective), Our Corka Bubs (2021 DreamBIG Festival), as a Dance Presenter for The Australian Ballet’s Dance Education Ensemble and working with choreographers Jo Clancy, Jade Erlandsen, Cathy Adamek and Kaine Sultan-Babij. Passionate about dance education and the role of dance in maintaining wellbeing, Adrianne has worked on many youth focused initiatives, including projects for Kurruru Arts and Culture Hub, Carclew, Ausdance SA and the Department for Education.
Sarah Chaffey is a Perth-based performer, teacher, emerging choreographer and researcher. She recently completed a Masters by Research at Edith Cowan University (ECU) and WAAPA. The research project titled ‘Voice in Motion’ examined the integration of voice and acting fundamentals into contemporary dance practice.
Sarah is interested in combining writings and movement within creative practice; examining how the two expressions can inform and reform one another. Conceptually, she is interested in physically exploring erotic dance styles as a means to interrogate the stigmas surrounding their recreational use. This concept is influenced by her ongoing engagement in the pole dancing community in Perth. Her most recent choreographic work, TEASE, reflects a developmental exploration into the subject and was presented at STRUT Dance’s annual event ShortCuts.
Her recent projects include: REBECCA RIGGS-BENNETT — (current) Collaborator for the creative development of the physical performance work, ‘Rabbit-Punch’. FEISTY DAME PRODUCTIONS — (2021) Choreographer/Movement Coach for Alexander England in the feature film ‘How to Please a Woman’. STRUT DANCE — 2021 Choreographer and performer of ‘TEASE’; performer in Ashleigh White’s dance film ‘Point Street’, featured in ShortCUTS. LUCINDA COLEMAN — 2020 Performer in Dr Coleman’s ‘Becoming’; a dance film celebrating 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife. CAKE THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS — 2019 Playing Antigone in Natalie Hennedige’s ‘Rubber Girl on the Loose’, Singapore. HELDER SEABRA — 2018 Performer for ‘Passer by’ presented by B12 dance festival, Dock 11, Berlin.
Xin Hui Ong
Xin Hui Ong is a Perth-based emerging independent choreographer. Born in Singapore, she moved to Australia to pursue medicine. She discovered that the health issues faced by patients were largely rooted in a lack of connection; to purpose, in relationships, to their own bodies. These aspects of life could not be directly addressed by medicine, but through the arts. Since 2017, she has pursued dance as her main vocation, training at Ev&Bow, and Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. In 2018, as the Rogue resident with STRUT, she engaged with workshops such as Stephanie Lake/Robin Fox, which opened her up to the process of interdisciplinary collaboration. Since then, she has directed, produced, edited and choreographed several developments for film, collaborating with videographers, dancers, musicians and installation artists. Her dance film, Kindred (亲), which premiered in Canada, has also been presented in Australia during Flow: Dance on screen series (2021).
Isha Sharvani is a highly regarded dance artist in India today. Touring Internationally from the age of 12, Isha has toured more than 25 countries performing in over 3000 stage shows including Holland Dance Festival, Edinburgh International festival and Perth International Arts Festival, Royal Albert Hall and Kennedy Centre. She is also a film actor with 11 Indian feature films to her credit in three different Indian languages including Bollywood hits like Luck By Chance on Netflix. Since moving to Australia in 2015, Isha has become a mother, a climate change activist and dance therapist. She has also grown culturally through connection to country during the making of Kaya (2016) and Kwongkan (2019) with Ochre Dance. She was last seen in “Wistleblower” by The Last Great Hunt for Perth Festival 2021, and is currently in creative development stages for her new work “Ascent.”
STRUT Dance, is a programme of internationally benchmarked training, collaboration and presentation opportunities unique in Australia and Asia-Pacific region. They offer choreographers and dance practitioners the possibility to engage with great national and international masters, the chance to work with collaborative partners in the making of their own performance, and the opportunity to put their work in front of a willing and informed audience. As a national organisation, STRUT is now open to all and continues to operate on five levels: Body, Collaboration, Presentation, Mentorship and Exchange.
Lewis Major Projects
Lewis Major is an award-winning choreographer, director and creative entrepreneur with a background in sheep shearing and a foreground in contemporary dance theatre. He honed his skills in dancemaking over a decade spent working with seminal contemporary dance makers Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Hans van den Broeck (Cie Soit/Les Ballets C de la B), Hofesh Shechter and Aakash Odedra amongst others. Unabashedly audience driven, the ethos that drives his work is local focus, global outlook. His company Lewis Major Projects presents surprisingly real dance works in multiple mediums to diverse audiences across the world, having created 17 different works both independently and on commission and having presented them on 6 continents to widespread critical acclaim.