Anand Bhatt is a dance enthusiast and producer from Leicester . With an interest in all things Michael Jackson and Bollywood, he stumbled upon contemporary dance in 2007 when he was dancing in a Kathak show along with dancer Aakash Odedra. As Aakash and Anand found their creative talks and dreams aligned, the clearer it also became the Anand was not in fact a dancer. He started to help out Aakash with his shows, and ended up as his producer.
Instantly falling in love with contemporary dance but not having seen much of it, Anand has remained focussed on gathering experience and skills by intensively supporting Aakash. The first project ‘Rising’ featured commissions by Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Russell Maliphant. Aakash has since gone on to be one of the most globally toured cotemporary dancers living in Britain over the past 5 years. Commercially Anand ran a studio space in Leicester, and the resident Bollywood dance school Desi Masti was a force for South Asian dance in the Midlands. In 2014, Anand closed Desi Masti (as Aakash’s work was getting too busy) and signed a franchise with Aakash’s Alma Mater – ‘Shiamak’ the world leader in Bollywood Dance. Anand was also artistic director of MJ Timeless, a summer residency show at Blackpool ‘s Globe Theatre which featured an international award winning cast and the show was ravely reviewed.
In 2014 Anand was accepted on the Step Change programme and took on a placement at London Festival ‘Dance Umbrella’ where his enquiries included 1) how can I upscale my work from small scale to larger scale and 2) Can I stay in the ‘Leicester’ area, and still be considered world class, and thereby changing the perception of the place. Anand achieved this ‘upscaling’ challenge when Dance Umbrella assigned Anand to work with Marcos Morau’s La Veronal at Sadler’s Wells and the subsequent year working with Aditi Mangaldas Company touring to The Barbican, Warwick Arts Centre, The Lowry and Curve. His idea of placemaking saw him heavily focus on ‘Diwali’ the Festival of lights as an opportunity for building quality and is advocating for this festival to become a world-class festival. Anand’s other interest includes the possibility of getting more audience members from all communities, and how his learning in South Asian arts can be applied more broadly to ‘mainstream’ projects.
Anand formed Aakash Odedra Company with Aakash in 2011, and in 2016 formed their new structure Leicester Dance Theatre Limited which brought together their various strands of activity under one structure. In 2018, this new structure was awarded NPO status by Arts Council England and is the highest new entry for any dance company in the country.