Two of the great South Asian dancers of their respective generations, Aakash Odedra and Aditi Mangaldas, are bringing their new production, Mehek to Birmingham Hippodrome on Thursday 24 April 2024.
In Mehek, Kathak contemporary dancers, Aakash Odedra and Aditi Mangaldas tell unspoken and sometimes taboo love stories. The production is an exploration of the human heart, its desires, courage and resilience. Centred around an older woman and a younger man, the dance delves deep into the different ways that love can be.
Mehek marks the return to the stage of Aakash Odedra following his critically acclaimed Samsara in 2022 and is the first duet of Aditi Mangaldas’ illustrious 50-year career.
Derived from the Hindi word for fragrance, the title Mehek alludes to the enduring power of memory and the essence of love itself. The stage becomes a place where rhythmic tales of desire unfold, entwined with elements of nature. Tina Tzoka’s set of mirrors, evoking the expansive waters of the sea, reflects the duality of the story - the tranquil surface and the tumultuous waves beneath. The dance reveals that love is not only a profound connection and exploration with one another but also a personal journey within the self.
Composer Nicki Wells, a frequent collaborator of Odera and Mangaldas, has created a powerful soundscore, sometimes epic, sometimes intimate and intensely beautiful. Wells sings live on stage with three Indian percussionists and vocalists.
As part of the creative process for Mehek, Aakash with dramaturg Karthika Naïr and musician Hiren Chate worked with 450 older people from communities across Leicester. Workshop participants told their personal stories and their memories of life and love, and some of those stories have been incorporated into the work. The wider Mehek Live project, run in partnership with Moving Together, culminates in a symposium at Sadler’s Wells on 12 April as part of the Elixir Festival.
With Mehek, Mangaldas and Odedra have created a mesmerising powerful work that is raw, authentic and infinitely resonant.