15th American Natya Festival Set For Next Month

The festival runs April 27-29.

By: Mar. 26, 2024
15th American Natya Festival Set For Next Month
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Soorya Performing Arts, a local non-profit organization dedicated to Indian classical dance, music, and theatre, will present the 15th American Natya Festival April 27, 28th and 29th at the Clayton High School Auditorium (#1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton, MO 63105). This three-day festival presents professional performing artists from across the United States and India, featuring beautiful Indian classical dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Andhra Natyam along with dance dramas. In addition to the dance presentations, the Festival includes a Conference and the Grand Finals of the American Natya Idol.  

Professional dancers to be featured include:

  • St. Louis’ famous dance team – Soorya Dance Company - will be featured with their presentation of “Defeat of Death” – based on the monumental work “Savitri” by great Indian freedom fighter, Ascetic Yogi – Shree Aurobindo. The story is derived from “Mahabharata” – a famous Indian epic that shows the way from a mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life. Veteran dancer Mr. Prasanna Kasthuri will direct and perform with the team of dancers. St. Louis’ other eminent dance teachers - Asha Prem, Archana Upamaka, Sujatha Vinjamuri, Smitha Rajan, Bhavitha Ganesh, and Prathibha Mannil - will also showcase their artists in the local dance section of the Festival.
  • Chicago’s Natya Dance Theater will present the dance drama “Shakti Chakra” under the direction of veteran dance Guru Hema Rajagopalan. They bring a beautiful collage of metaphysics with mythology to showcase the eternal fight between “rights” and “wrongs” in the cycle of life through stories from age-old “Devi Purana”.
  • Also from Chicago, Acharya Performing Arts will bring their large dance troupe to present the ancient epic “Ramayana” under the guidance of director/dancer Ms. Asha Adiga. Pushyami Gottipati, the Artistic Director of Sri Kuchipudi Nrityalaya, will present the popular Bhama Kalapam, a masterpiece of the legendary dance Master – Vempati Chinna Sathyam.
  • Shanbhavi’s International School of Kathak from California will present traditional Kathak dances from their company dancers, directed by Shambhavi Dandekar, one of the most famous Kathak dancers in the country.

Soorya Performing Arts is honored to have two dance specialists from India participating – Ms. Pratibha Prahlad (Director, Prasiddha Foundation, New Delhi, India) and Dr. Padmini Seshadri (Director, Nritya Gaana Academy of Performing Arts, Bengaluru, India). Both are well-known danseuses from India. Ms. Pratibha Prahlad is a Padmashri awardee, a national award given by the President of India. Dr. Padmini Seshadri has done extensive research into ancient dance traditions from south India. Both Pratibha and Padmini will be giving scholarly demonstrations at the Festival.

The 15th American Natya Festival will also host the NATYA Kala Conference - an educational dance-related conference focusing on a variety of issues surrounding Indian classical dance including topics such as Young Dancer's Challenges in the USA, Movement and Mime in Indian and American Art forms, and Storytelling. Dance Scholars such as Maya Chadda from New York, Dr. Avanthi Meduri from Chennai, India; Dr. Alice Bloch, an authority on Modern dance; Dr. Christine Knoblauch-O'Neal, a well-known Ballet professor from Washington University, will be sharing their thoughts. Danette House, the storyteller from Ozarks, will be collaborating with Indian dancers to tell the stories of the American Civil War with Indian dance movements. Young dancers such as Samanvita Kasthuri and Aparna Kalyanaramana will be discussing the challenges of young Indian dancers in the Saint Louis region.

The Festival has been made possible by the support from grants from the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Council, and many other generous sponsors. It is an event that should not be missed by anyone interested in experiencing the rich cultural heritage of India expressed through dance.

More details of the 15th American Natya Festival are available at https://www.natya.org/.




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