ABOUT THE AALOKAM DANCE COMPANY
Aalokam marks the coming together of two talented Bharatnatyam dancers, Bharathi Penneswaran and Jyotsna Kalyansundar. Trained in the Kalakshetra style, both bring together more than 20 years of experience each in training, performing and teaching Bharatnatyam in India and in USA. The idea behind Aalokam is to showcase the elegance and beauty of this classical Indian dance form through innovative set pieces. Combining rhythm, hand gestures and facial expressions, these dance pieces convey exotic tales from Indian mythology and folklore.
Bharathi has over 10 years of professional training in Bharatnatyam under Shri Justin McCarthy. Her credentials include a Post diploma in Bharatanatyam and a Yoga Teachers Training Program certification from Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. She has been a part of several performances worldwide, the highlight of which has been her performance as the lead protagonist in an Indian National Award Winning documentary, O Friend, This Waiting, directed by Justin McCarthy & Sandhya Kumar, and screened in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, San Francisco & Paris. She has appeared in both solo and group performances such as the Dance Season & Drive East events of Navatman Dance Company in New York, the India Revival Group, showcasing Incredible India, in Montreal & Toronto, the Rukmani Devi Arundale Music and Dance Festival, the Sangeeth Natak Academy Awards and in several of Justin McCarthy’s Bharatnatyam Dance productions. Her teaching experiences stem from a combination of working at some of the most prestigious institutions such as Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi and Delhi Tamil Sangham.
Jyotsna is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer with over 25 years of training in the Kalakshetra style, under the tutelage of Padmabhushan Shri. V.P Dhananjayan and Smt.Shanta Dhananjayan from Chennai, India. She has performed and accompanied her gurus in several of their legendary productions and staged performances worldwide such as Tagore’s Tasherdesh and Rasa Samudra. She has also performed as a soloist in prestigious dance festivals like the Natyarangam and the December (Marghazhi) festival held annually in one of India’s main cultural hubs, Chennai. Her training in teaching and performance included complete immersion in the art form, through experiential dance camps (Gurukulam/Ashram) and learning from the best of Natyacharyas (faculty) in Bharatanatyam, Kalari and folk dances such as the late Nattuvannar Kamala rani and Professor N.S. Jayalakshmi of Kalakshetra fame. She also joined the NY based Navatman troupe in February 2012 and performed in their productions namely Rhythm Within and Dance of the Animals. She recently graduated with a Masters in Organization Psychology at Teacher’s College Columbia University, NY and has now set up her own institution that promises to provide a culturally enriching learning experience across various south Asian art forms, integrating similar values that she imbibed under her gurus.
Varsha has been a dancer at the Aalokam company for nearly 2 years. Having grown up in Kuwait, and lived in the UK and US, she is intrigued by multi-cultural perspectives on art, and has performed from a young age for diverse audiences and across countries. India remains close to her heart, and is where she consolidated her training in Bharatanatyam, breaking into her own sense of stylistic awareness and grace.
Her gurus have been critical in shaping Varsha a person and artiste. Smt. Sujatha Rajendran taught her discipline and rigor, and Smt Divya Shivasundar instilled in her a sense of individuality and aestheticism in dance.
Dance aside, Varsha is fond of outdoor adventures and appreciates nature. She is currently a Product Manager at a Tech company, and is passionate about policy and the dynamics of diverse communities.
Abinaya Narayanan is a Bharathanatyam dancer with over 9 years of training under the able guidance of Guru Smt. Hemalatha Ramachandran in Chennai India. She has also been trained under Guru Smt.Roja Kannan. She has performed in various parts of Southern India including the dance season in Chennai, Tirupathi, Guruvayur, and Mysore. Abinaya is a member of Abhai (Association of Bharathanatyam artists of India) and has also performed in various shows as a part of their production.
Abinaya has recently moved to New Jersey and she currently teaches beginners Bharatanatyam classes at Aalokam. Abinaya is an MBA-MS graduate with an advanced degree in finance.
Pratyaksha - Painting with Dance
Pratyaksha, which means perspective in Sanskrit, uses classic Indian dance pieces to explore, experience and expose western art movements and art forms including cubism, impressionism and romanticism, among others.
Pratyaksha will feature five items that gradually progress in complexity and intensity thereby forming a traditional repertoire. The five dances include Alaripu, Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana. While they stay completely true to the art in terms of style and narration, the movements and interaction between the dancers in each of the pieces are inspired by the painting techniques used by the greats such as Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and the like.
9 Dance Performances to See in NYC this Weekend
-The New York Times (May 17, 2018)
And the twain did meet
" Pratyaksha... Elevates Classical Dance with a Stroke of Modernism"
Eka - A Tryst with the Divine
Eka takes you through a mystical journey with the divine, at times getting immersed and rapt in its all-encompassing force and at others conversing with, exploring and courting its myriad forms. Through this sojourn, we evoke powerful feelings of devotion, happiness and melancholy, and express an eternal longing to be one with the Divine. The repertoire assembles creative, lively and energetic footwork choreographed by the performers and their gurus, interspersed with moving emotional sequences that enthralls the audience with analogies drawn to unique mythological stories and poetic references.