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Ampersand Series 2020-21

AMPERSAND SERIES 2020-21

#Ampersand is a series of live conversations with dancers who are pursuing parallel careers, moving and straddling across both worlds seamlessly.

About the Hosts:

Meghna Das is a professional Odissi dancer, choreographer, writer, and producer. She also secretly loves to sing, is a content developer by day, and is an aspiring author and self-proclaimed bundle of contradictions. Armed with 25 years of training in Odissi (under her gurus, Smt. Sahana Das, Nrityagram, and Smt. Madhulita Mohapatra), Meghna’s passion for the arts led to her starting @akarproductions in 2019 – a small production company geared towards helping classical and folk artistes bring their work to a professional stage. Over the last decade, Meghna has travelled the country and the world as a performing artiste, allowing her to explore her own art form and to work with incredible artistes all over the world, creating collaborative pieces with practitioners of Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Jazz, Tap, Butoh, and Contemporary Dance. Her most recent collaborative piece was a digital performance “Srishti”, which brought 9 dancers from 5 countries together, performing to the music of Grammy-Award winner Sandeep Das.

 

Janani Murali is a performer, writer and biologist based in Bangalore, India. Since her professional debut for Bharatanatyam in 1998, she has pursued dance in various capacities – as a solo and ensemble performer, choreographer, dance educator, arts writer and researcher. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Padmalaya Dance Foundation, Bangalore and the Executive Member of International Dance Alliance, Bangalore chapter. An “A” grade artiste of Doordarshan and empanelled artiste of ICCR, Janani has been decorated with many awards and titles, among them being the “Narthana Shironmani”, “Padmavathi Puraskar” and “Nalanda Nrithya Nipuna”. An avid admirer of Indian storytelling, her dance-theatre productions and multi-disciplinary performances aim to present the true essence of the Puranas and Itihasas. Traversing with equal ease between performances in the traditional Margam format and contemporary work, Janani brings to her audience her earnest learning and contemplations.

 

 

  1. In this episode Meghna Das interviews Mridula Ganesan.

Mridula Ganesan is a textile design graduate from NIFT Chennai, a lettering/calligraphy artist & a freelance designer. She has been running Hew and Frost, a home-based design-driven cake studio for 5 years. Trained in Bharatanatyam for over 8-9 years, she chanced upon other styles like Jazz, Hip-hop, contemporary and salsa as she was growing up and gave them a try during her summer breaks. Currently she is learning animal flow with strength training and yoga. Click here to watch.

2. Janani Murali in conversation with Sanjana Prasad

Sanjana Prasad has been training in Bharatanatyam for the past 20 years and is currently under the guidance of Smt. Radhika Shurajit. Her strong passion for movement led her to pursue a Diploma in Movement Arts from Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, training in Kalaripayattu, Contemporary Dance and Ballet. She took to yoga as a teenager to support her dance training, but her tryst with contemporary dance brought in the perspective of using breath to enhance movement, an anchoring aspect of Yoga. Sanjana completed her Yoga Teacher Training Course to enhance her own practice but soon she realised there is no better way to learn than teaching itself and there was no looking back. With more training and 5 years of teaching experience she is now the Co-founder of Atma Yoga Shala, Venus Colony, Chennai. Sanjana shares her knowledge of Yoga with different age groups while continuing to further her education in both dance and Yoga. Click here to watch.

3. Meghna Das in conversation with Sutikshana Veeravalli

Sutikshna Veeravallı is a Carnatic vocalist and Bharatanatyam artiste from Chicago, IL, and has been pursuing both arts for over 20 years. She is trained in music by Kalaimamani Dr. R. Suryaprakash and in dance by her mother, Guru Smt. Vanitha Veeravalli, and takes joy in teaching both arts herself. Her performances take her across North America and India, including for Madras Music Academy’s Spirit of Youth and HCL Festival, Bharat Kalachar, Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, and more. She has, to her name, the title of “Yuva Kala Vipanchee” from Vipanchee Natyalaya, “Promising Young Artiste” awarded by Brahma Gana Sabha, and most recently, the “Special Commendation” award from Bharat Kalachar. Click here to watch.

4.  Janani Murali in conversation with Krithika Rajkumar

Krithika Rajkumar is a Bharatanatyam artiste originally from Auburn Hills, Michigan, and has been pursuing the art form for over 25 years. Krithika has performed for organizations like the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Children Helping Children, and Children’s Miracle Network. She was featured in the February 2008 issue of the Dance Magazine under “Wunder Kids, Child Prodigies in Dance”. She has won numerous awards for her performances, both in the U.S. and India. She was also given the ‘Best Choreographer’ Award at the 2010 India Festival in Cleveland. She is also a former Miss Malayalee North America and Miss India USA first runner-up. Krithika’s passion for the performing arts and social justice has led her to become a lawyer and she is currently a trial attorney in Boston, Massachusetts for Nixon Peabody LLP, a Global 100 firm, in their Complex Commercial Disputes Practice Group. She is currently the Head of Legal & Compliance at CAREspaces, a non profit aiming to provide tangible measures for more conscientious and ethical workspaces in the Indian creative arts communities. Click here to watch.

5. Meghna Das in conversation with Brinda Sarah Jacob.

Brinda is a dancer, a movement based expressive arts therapist, an Authentic Movement practitioner and trainer, and a Natural Dreamwork practitioner. She is passionate about the arts, the mysterious workings of the Psyche-Soma and the connections between the body and the earth. The founder and managing trustee of the Studio for Movement Arts and Therapies Trust, Brinda has been actively working on the Desire project since 2017. Of the firm belief that reclaiming and having agency around our desire is a path towards true empowerment, the project invites us to move into our bodies to explore sensations, emotions, images and questions around desire, longing, and belonging. Living in a world where women’s desires has been for so feared, projected upon, objectified and distorted, Brinda believes that reclaiming our ego is a form of activism in itself. Click here to watch.

6. Meghna Das in conversation with Masoom Parmar.

Hailing from the hereditary Langha community of musicians, Masoom Parmar is an artiste, curator and arts manager based in Bangalore. Influenced by his own diverse ancestry, his work explores ideas of identity and belonging through the oral, literary and cultural heritage of the subcontinent. He is invested in finding the secular and contemporary in the classical forms of Bharatanatyam and Kathak. His commitment to making the arts a commercially viable career finds expression in associations and collaborations with established and emerging artistes across India. His curatorial work explores the multiplicity and diversity of culture in the Indian subcontinent. He is fascinated by the cross-cultural occurrences that have given birth to different art forms and intends to bring these from the margins to the centre. Click here to watch.

7. Janani Murali in conversation with Priyanka Chandrasekhar.

Priyanka Chandrasekhar is a lawyer by education and professional classical dancer based in Bangalore. She is trained in Bharathanatyam and Kathak for many years and has also learnt the margi techniques of movement. Priyanka has performed extensively in both solo and group formats in India and abroad along with popular dance companies. She is a freelance performer and also undertakes choreography projects. Priyanka conducts personal Bharathanatyam classes under the initiative – ‘Nirali’. Presently, Priyanka is trying explore the pedagogy of classical dance training and designing a new curriculum in classical arts. She is director of Arts at Tenbroeck Academy where she is curating the arts programme for children in education. She is very interested in the politics of the form and its history. Priyanka is extremely interested in inter-disciplinary approaches, methods and collaborations that provide space and agency for her co creators and audiences. She aspires to create a new body of work in Bharathanatyam that accommodates relevant content, a thinking mind, questions, personal stories and has the ability to leave the audiences with an experience. Click here to watch.

8. Janani Murali in conversation with Vishnu Arunasalam.

Vishnu Arunasalam is a Sri Lankan-born Australian-raised multifaceted art-maker exploring the traditional dance medium of Bharatanatyam through contemporary expression and techniques. His work explores his South Asian diaspora identity within the contemporary Australian landscape through cross-disciplinary and intercultural collaborations whilst also promoting the nuances and aesthetics of the Bharatanatyam form in Australia. He is a practitioner of Bharatanatyam, Nattuvangam, and Carnatic Music receiving training under distinguished educators: Chidambaram R.Suresh and Shobana Suresh (Dance and Nattuvangam ), Kiranthi Kiran Mudigondan and Lavanya Vithushan (Carnatic Music). Currently, working as a Health Promotion Officer for NSW Health with past experience in Chronic Disease Management Nursing, he is also the Artistic Director of Agal Dance Company, established in August 2018, and a company dancer at the WE ARE HERE Dance Company headed by Artistic Director Emma Suanders. Click here to watch.

9. Meghna Das in conversation with Tony Pius.

Dr. Tony Pius is a medical graduate and General practitioner of medicine, a student of Bharatanatyam, a soloist and an ensemble performer based in Bangalore. His love for Bharatanatyam runs into decades and his relationship with it is continuously evolving. He has been pursuing this love under Guru Chitra C Dasarathy. To further his artistic pursuit, he did a Diploma in Movement Art and mixed media from the internationally acclaimed Attakkalari Dance Company, Diploma in Bharatanatyam from Alliance University, MFA from Sastra University under the guidance of Dr Padma Subramanyam. In addition to Bharatanatyam, Tony has trained in contemporary dance, ballet and kalaripayattu, and has done choreographies for dance students in college, and has danced for songs sequences in Indian films. He aims to work with dancers and athletes on their journeys – negotiating injuries, hoping to prevent them, if it does occur – rehabilitate, and slowly help one ease back into their regular practice. Click here to watch.

10. Meghna Das in conversation with Shriya Srinivasan.

Dr. Shriya Srinivasan is a Bharathanatyam artiste known for her vibrant stage presence, and mature emotive capacity who trained under Guru Smt. Sujatha Srinivasan. She co-founded and directs Anubhava Dance Company, touring over 14 cities with original productions. Shriya recently co-choreographed Vivarta: Transformations- an original work on environmental conservation and works to bring current social themes to life through the classical Indian arts. Blending her training in Carnatic music, yoga, and biomechanics, she brings a holistic approach to her art and recently performed in the Madras Music Academy’s Spirit of Youth Festival and HCL series. Shriya is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard’s Society of Fellows working on neural interfaces for gastrointestinal neuromodulations at the MIT Langer Lab. She was recently awarded the Lemelson prize for her inventions related to neuroprosthetics. Click here to watch.

11. Meghna Das in conversation with Sophia Salingaros.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Sophia has trained in Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Guru Dr. Sreedhara Äkkihebbalu from the age of nine. She has given numerous solo performances in the US and abroad, notably at Narada Gana Sabha under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts and Vipanchee Arts Festival, Chennai. Sophia has also studied intensively under Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan and has performed in international tours of ‘Vivartana’. She is an ICCR Empaneled Artist, 2013 YoungArts Finalist, and 2017-2018 IndianRaga Fellow. Recently graduated from Columbia University with a chemistry degree, she passionately continues her pursuit of dance. Click here to watch.

12. Meghna Das in conversation with Srinidhi Raghavan.

Srinidhi Raghavan started learning Bharatanatyam nearly thirty years ago and has performed globally over the decades. Her experiences have spanned several countries and cultures across North America, Europe and India. Known for her “precise nritta and apt abhinaya” (The Hindu) she is also recognized for her innovative choreographies and original works, which often explore contemporary themes via traditional Bharatanatyam pieces. A graduate of Columbia University and The Wharton School, Srinidhi lives in New York and performs and produces her own shows while also collaborating with artists across genres. Click here to watch.

13. Meghna Das in conversation with Kassiyet Adilkhankyzy.

Kassiyet Adilkhankyzy is a young Bharatanatyam dancer from Kazakhstan based in the Bay Area, California, USA. Kassiyet was born in Almaty city, Kazakhstan and began her training in Bharatanatyam at the age of 6 at the Indian Cultural Center, Embassy of India in Almaty, Kazakhstan. After 11 years of dedicated training in her home country, Kassiyet was awarded the prestigious ICCR scholarship from the Government of India to receive intensive training in Bharatanatyam at Ganesa Natyalaya, New Delhi under the guidance of Padma Bhushan Dr. Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. In 2012 Kassiyet successfully completed Arangetram and further continued training under Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan. Kassiyet started Art as Dignity as her humble contribution to the field of Indian Classical Dance. Art as Dignity is a Bharatanatyam-inspired clean cosmetics brand that has been artistically created in California, USA. The products are vegan, paraben free, gluten free, and cruelty free. Click here to watch.

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