Indo-American Arts Council and Asia Society

Indo American Arts Council and Asia Society | Danza Ballet 

"Erasing Borders: Festival of Indian Dance 2010"

"… Erasing Borders: Festival of Indian Dance strikes me as the best new arrival on this city’s dance scene in the last two years." – Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times (August 21, 2009)

The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) and Asia Society are proud to present the third annual "Erasing Borders: Festival of Indian Dance 2010": two evening performances and two days of panels, workshops and demonstrations of Indian – and Indian inspired –dance. An array of forms, old and new, highlights both dramatic and non-narrative choreography. The two evening performances feature traditional and experimental, classical and post-modern dance. Day sessions explore aspects such as movement elements, rhythm and textual content in a range of performance genres. The festival takes place at Asia Society & Museum, 725 Park Avenue, New York City.


CONCERT I, Friday June 4 at 8 PM
Mesma S. Belsare – Sheetal Gandhi – Shipra Mehrotra – Wanted Ashiqz

Two US premieres, one inspired by a folio of Indian paintings, the other a stark minimalist work by Mesma S. Belsare, known for her innovative Bharatanatyam choreography;

Excerpts from Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-law, Daughter, Wife), a soloist tour-de-force combining dance, stirring vocalization and percussive text by Sheetal Gandhi;

A pair of sinuous dances– one rhythmic, one a love poem – by Shipra Mehrota, an exponent of the seductive dance form originating in the temple rituals of Orissa, India;

An explosive blend of hip-hop, disco and Bhangra, performed by the group Wanted Ashiqz -catapult audiences into the energy-filled world of Bollywood dance and music.

CONCERT II, Saturday June 5 at 8 PM

Ailey II – Cynthia Lee – Mythili Prakash – Navtej Johar – Parul Shah Dance Company

Ailey II performs Takademe, choreographed by Robert Battle and set to Indian rhythms – an exuberant example of the spreading influence of Indian dance and music;

Indian rhythm becomes a talking point for Cynthia Lee in Ruddha (‘Rude, huh?’);

A favorite on NBC’s Superstars of Dance, Mythili Prakash combines Sufi poetry of Rumi with verses on the Vedic sun god, Surya, in her suite of Bharatanatyam dances;

In his Meenakshi, dedicated to the fish-eyed goddess, Bharatanatyam and yoga exponent Navtej Johar celebrates the feminine principle through meditative and ritualized movement;

Two contrasting works – one abstract, one narrative – by the New York-based Parul Shah Dance Company, reflect an expansive and innovative view of the quintessential North Indian dance form Kathak.


Saturday June 5, 12 noon to 1:30 PM – Angika: The Dance Body

  • Experience and explore body positions and use of feet, hands, eyes, neck, in three classical forms: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, and Odissi
  • Led by: Prerana Deshpande (Kathak), Mesma S. Belsare (Bharatanatyam), and Shipra Mehrotra (Odissi)

Saturday June 5, 2 to 3:30 PM – Vachika: Talking Dance

  • One of the most exciting elements of Indian dance is how it incorporates chanted poems and vocalized rhythmic syllables. Dancers demonstrate and discuss how spoken word is used in new work
  • Moderator: Elise Thoron
  • Presenters: Cynthia Lee, Rajika Puri, Reena Shah, Sheetal Gandhi

Saturday June 5, 4 to 5:30 PM – Mathematics of Rhythm II

  • A fascinating discussion and demonstration of the Indian systems of rhythms, Carnatic and Hindustani, and the mathematical process of composition
  • Moderator: Prachi Dalal
  • Presenters: Bala Skandan (Carnatic percussion), Prerana Deshpande (Kathak)

Sunday June 6, noon to 1:30 PM – to be announced

Sunday June 6, 2 to 3:30 PM – Moving Traditions

  • A thought-provoking discussion with leading dancers, choreographers and scholars who will share their insights into the changing world of Indian dance
  • Moderator: Purnima Shah
  • Panelists: Anita Ratnam, Chitra Sundaram, Navtej Johar

Sunday June 6, 4 to 6 PM – Kutcheri-Mehfil: Cushion Conversations

  • At the heart of Indian dance lies Abhinaya, in which a dancer conveys poetic, philosophic, imagistic meanings suggested by the accompanying lyrics. Senior artists of Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Bharatanatyam will present their approaches to art in an informal cushion concert.
  • Moderator: Chitra Sundaram, Prachi Dalal
  • Presenters: Anuradha Nehru (Kuchipudi), Prerana Deshpande (Kathak), Rachna Sarang (Kathak), Ramya
  • Ramnarayan (Bharatanatyam)


Program I

Mesma S. Belsare is "…a consummate dancer…as mesmerizing as staring into the heart of a fire." (Dance Current Magazine). Formally trained in Bharatanatyam by Sri Shankar Hombal and Padmashri Geeta Chandran in India, Belsare is a dancer, choreographer, actor, visual artist and museum educator currently based in Boston.

Sheetal Gandhi creates work that is reflective of a life that embraces diversity, observes human experience and yearns to tell a story. The solo artist, headquartered in Venice, CA, worked as a creator and performer in Cirque du Soleil's Dralion and appeared in New York in a leading role in the Broadway production of Bombay Dreams.

Shipra Mehrotra is an evocative dancer in the Odissi dance form. Initiated in Odissi by Dr. Chitra Krishnamurti (Washington D.C.), she currently receives advanced instruction from the masters performers based in Orissa, India. In 2005, the solo artist, from Houston, served as a dance consultant for Terrence Mallick for his Hollywood film "The New World."

Wanted Ashiqz, an exciting New York-based company, has appeared on programs with major Bollywood artists such as Shahrukh Khan, Bipasha Basu, and the new Pop-R&B sensation Jay Sean, among others. They have won numerous dance competitions and represent the contemporary Indian-American pop culture.

Program II

Ailey II, Company under the direction of Sylvia Waters will perform a work by Robert Battle, outstanding New York choreographer and newly appointed director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company. Battle, a 2007 recipient of the Statue Award from The Princess Grace Foundation, has created works for his company, Battleworks, and has contributed dances to Introdans, Ballet Memphis, PARADIGM, and both Ailey companies.

Cynthia Lee, based in Santa Monica, CA, creates playful choreographic dialogues combining American postmodern dance and North Indian classical Kathak. Recipient of a 2002-3 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and a 2006 Asia Pacific Performing Arts Exchange Fellowship, Lee's choreography has been seen throughout the U.S., Jakarta, and India.

Mythili Prakash is recognized as one of the world's leading young exponents of Bharatanatyam. Her inventive approach to classicism revitalizes the art and creates an individual style acclaimed by audiences around the world. Currently living in L.A., the solo artist was trained in the Thanjavur tradition by her mother and renowned dancer/teacher Viji Prakash.

Navtej Johar, a resident of New Delhi, India, is a Bharatanatyam exponent and choreographer who exhibits a range from classical dance to works that include street-theatre, installations, musicals and site-specific works. Johar’s work is unique in that it freely traverses between the traditional and the avant-garde, the Hindu aesthetic and the Sufi-Sikh sensibility.

Parul Shah Dance Company, an ensemble well known to New York audiences, is led by Parul Shah, recognized for expanding the classical medium beyond cultural boundaries. Parul's works reflect her very individual perspective as a highly trained Kathak dancer born and raised within New York's hybrid community.

About Indo-American Arts Council
The Indo-American Arts Council is a registered 501(c)3 not-for-profit, secular service and resource arts organization charged with the mission of promoting and building the awareness, creation, production, exhibition, publication and performance of Indian and cross-cultural art forms in North America.

About Asia Society
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonprofit nonpartisan educational institution. Through exhibitions and public programs, Asia Society provides a forum for the issues and viewpoints reflected in both traditional and contemporary Asian art, and in Asia today. Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City.

"Erasing Borders: Festival of Indian Dance 2010"

  • Performances: Friday & Saturday, June 4 & 5 at 8 PM
  • Panels/workshops: Saturday & Sunday, June 5 & 6, 12 noon to 6 PM
  • Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)
  • Reservations:
  • Information: and
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