Dance as performance art is not easy to create during a pandemic! There is no access to performance spaces, musicians, audiences, sound, or lighting.
Yet, dancers around the world have risen to this unique challenge by creating dances in the last several months – in their homes, in outdoor spaces, and with minimal music and technical facilities.
In a way, these constraints have opened our minds to think differently and create new works that are not dependent on the constraints of modern technology and ways of thinking.
We are excited to present new and innovative works by the following dancers at this year’s Rasa Festival:
Sreyashi Dey (Odissi)
Event date: Saturday, October 3, October 17, October 24 2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Event date: Sunday, October 11,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Sreyashi Dey is one of the foremost exponents of Odissi in the US, and the Founder and Artistic Director of two arts organizations – Srishti Dances of India and Akshara.
She is a disciple of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, who was also an exponent of Bharatanayam and a disciple of Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan.
As a thoughtful artist, she constantly expands her creative horizons with new choreographies and collaborations across artistic genres.
Sreyashi regularly tours the US and has performed all over the world – in Europe, Asia and India.
Her work has been critically acclaimed by well-known critics in leading newspapers and magazines in the US, such as the New York Times, as well as in India.
She has been the recipient of several awards, notably the Harry Schwalb Excellence in the Arts award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and several premier foundations in the US.
Sreyashi was instrumental in founding two arts festivals – the annual multi-arts Rasa Festival in Ann Arbor, and the annual KathaAngika classical dance and theater festival in Kolkata, India.
Sreyashi’s educational background includes an MS in Economics and an MBA, and she has parallel careers in marketing, University of Michigan administration and non-profit.
Priyadarshini Ghosh (Mohiniattam)
Event date: Saturday, October 17,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Priyadarshini Ghosh is an accomplished Indian classical and contemporary dancer, choreographer, and dance scholar.
She is trained in both Bharatha Natyam and Mohini Attam, with specialization in Mohini Attam. She also has trained in Seraikella Chhau and is proficient in Yoga.
Priyadarshini holds an M.A. in Dance and has completed a Senior Fellowship on Dance as Yoga under the Ministry of Culture in India.
Priyadarshini has received the Nehru Fulbright Fellowship 2015-16, teaching at Brown University, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies as a visiting faculty.
Currently she is researching the mindful and contemplative aspects of performance, a system of Yoga, evaluating Kudiyattam and Mohiniyattam.
She performs and lectures actively in many prestigious venues and festivals as a soloist and also with her repertory.
Anurekha Ghosh (Kathak)
Event date: Sunday, October 18,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Anurekha Ghosh is one of the finest internationally acclaimed award-winning Indian Classical Kathak dancers.
Her technique and style is a combination of “tradition and modernity”.
Anurekha has shown her excellence in Choreography in both the classical and contemporary genres.
She received extensive training under the renowned Kathak exponent, Begum Nahid Siddiqui, from Pakistan.
Anurekha has performed in major theatres and Festivals all over the world as a soloist and with company productions.
She has performed in the USA, Canada, all over Europe, India, Estonia, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the UK.
Anurekha has choreographed and created many classical and contemporary productions, which have received critical acclaim.
Her time is shared between India and the west, teaching classical Kathak to many young aspiring students across the world, propagating Indian Culture.
Pallabi Chakravorty (Kathak)
Event date: Sunday, October 10,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Pallabi Chakravorty – visual anthropologist, dancer, choreographer – has studied dance all of her conscious life.
She is the founder and artistic director of Courtyard Dancers.
Pallabi studied classical Indian dance, such as Bharatnatyam and other folk forms, from Children’s Little Theatre, Kolkata from an early age. She toured India as a student there.
Later she was immersed in the study of Kathak dance for two decades.
She studied Kathak under the tutelage of Guru Bandana Sen, one of the foremost disciples of the legendary Kathak maestro Shambhu Maharaj and now a legend herself.
Pallabi has performed widely and her dance works have been presented in a myriad of venues in the U.S, Europe, and India.
As the recipient of many grants and awards, both for her artistic and scholarly works, from India and the U.S, Pallabi received the Rocky’s dance award given by Live Arts Festival/Philly (Philadelphia) Fringe in 2006.
Pallabi is also an active researcher and scholar, and is the author of many books including “Bells of Change: Kathak Dance, Women and Modernity in India”.
Pallabi is a full time faculty member in the Department of Music and Dance at Swarthmore College, where she directs the Dance Program.
Anu Naimpally (Bharatanatyam)
Event date: Sunday, October 4,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Being raised by art-loving Indian parents in Canada, Anu has had the best of many worlds.
Her western upbringing, along with her traditional training in India and deep-rooted spirituality, make her a unique teacher and performer of Bharata Natyam dance who connects with people from across the globe.
She is the founder and Artistic Director of Austin Dance India, her organization of nearly 30 years through which she teaches regular classes and presents her work.
Anu has trained numerous dancers, from beginner to professional level, and continues to mentor students and young artists.
She is a 2018 inductee into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame for her significant body of work and a juried artist on the touring roster of the Texas Commission on the Arts.
The Austin Area Critics’ Circle has nominated and awarded her Best Dancer and Production numerous times.
She has received several awards in India, including Sringara Mani and Mayura Natya Tarakai.
Anu is a recipient of the 2017 and 2020 Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance.
The Austin Chronicle included her in their list of Movers and Shakers for her valuable contributions in the dance community.
She tours regularly as a soloist or as a collaborator with local and international artists of different genres.
Anu is passionate about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is a member of the Global Artists 2030 Network.
Her social practice projects include work with refugee teens, South Asian seniors, and social justice, gender identity, and climate change. Her work with girls’ empowerment through dance was featured in the PBS series, Arts in Context.
She can be seen at various schools, libraries, and museums presenting performances on Indian dance and culture.
Anu is deeply dedicated to arts in education and making art available to all children.
Interested in creating and performing works that not only historically preserve artistic traditions, she engages in art that inspires social change to build community and raise awareness about global issues.
Kasi Aysola (Bharatanatyam)
Event date: Sunday, October 11,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Kasi Aysola is the Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Prakriti Dance.
Kasi is a rising Bharata Natyam dancer, choreographer, and nattuvanar who trained under his Guru, Viji Prakash, for over ten years. She is now under the mentorship of Mythili Prakash.
Kasi has been privileged to learn with many leading exponents of Bharata Natyam.
He has performed solo and in group work in the US, India and abroad.
A versatile and composite artist, Kasi continues to further his study of classical Indian dance and music.
He is a Kuchipudi disciple of the late Guru Sri Vempati Ravi Shankar. Kasi continues his learning in Kuchipudi under Smt Yamini Saripalli.
Kohal Das (Bharatanatyam)
Event date: Saturday, October 3,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Event date: Sunday, October 25,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Kohal Das, son of Shri Chira Ranjan Das and Smt. Minakshi Das, the 32 year old is a scientist/biologist by profession.
He completed his PhD form Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and moved to the USA for his postdoctoral training.
As an only child of dancer parents, he has always had an innate love for Indian Classical dances, which flourished as he grew up.
He began his Odissi training from a popular dancer Rina Jana in Kolkata, which he had to discontinue when he got into the PhD programme of IISc.
Recently he revived his Odissi training under Smt. Madhulita Mohapatra at Nrityantar, Bengaluru.
As a part of Nrityantar Kohal, Kohal has performed in many festivals, including Rasasvada 2016, Natarajotsava 2017, Articulate Festival 2017 – Organized by Shri.
Mysore Nagaraj – , Kerala Kalamandalam Festival 2017, Nrityakalakshetra Festival 2017, IIDF, Hyderabad 2017, Naman 2017, Odissi Utsav, Bangalore 2017, and more.
Apart from Odissi Kohal, he has learned Bharathanatyam under Shri Parshwanth Upadhye and Smt. Shruti Upadhye after he moved to Bengaluru.
As a part of Upadhye School of Dance, he has performed in prestigious events like Perur Natyanjali – at Pateeshwarar Temple – in 2016 and Sharadotsav, Bengaluru 2016. He also completed his Bharathanatya Rangapravesha in Feb 2017.
Kohal believes in creativity and innovation, which is central to science and dance.
Furthermore, he wants to pursue a scientific career which could accommodate his passion for dance while enabling him to contribute to and embrace his Indian Heritage.
Dheeman Bhattacharyya (movement-theater-spoken word)
Event date: Saturday, October 24,2020 USA: 11 am EST / India: 8:30 pm IST
Dheeman Bhattacharyya teaches Comparative Literature at the Centre for Comparative Literature, Visva- Bharati, Santiniketan.
His doctoral thesis was on Indigenous Theater traditions in India and Canada. He is trained in Odishi and Rabindrasangeet.
Dheeman has performed in productions like Yugaant, Ananta, NAAD, Urubhangam, Andhayug.
His original scripts include Karuna Dharay Esho, Megh Bhanga Gaan, Shrabon Kheyale, Waterness, and NAAD.
He directed the documentary Vimukti in association with ICSSR and AAWW.