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.
Parinatha Sampath is a lifestyle writer and social media manager. She has worked for Time Out and Times of India, and currently works as a social media manager in New York City. She has learnt Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Guru Revathi Narasimhan, in Bangalore, for over 20 years and has performed extensively across India, and in New York. Having also been deeply involved in theater for the most part of her life, she has acted in several plays including The Silent Front, Panchatantra and Hayavadana among others.
Namita Devadas is a performer and multimedia designer who grew up in Japan and came to the US for her BFA in Graphic Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Growing up between various cultures and languages, the subtleties of communication captivated her, drawing her to explore dance and design. Much like her cultural influences, her movement style is an ever-evolving eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary forms. At a young age she started with folk and jazz dance, then found structure in Bharatanatyam with Mohana Thulasi and Girija Chandran (and later Joe Daly and Navatman), competed with Brown Badmaash across the east coast, and discovered the sensuality of Odissi and Latin dance. Now she is exploring contemporary forms in the hopes of finding her own voice.
Akshata Rangarajan began her tryst with Bharatanatyam at the age of five under the tutelage of Guru Mrs. Uma Tilak in Pune, India. She has lived in India, U.K., Germany and the U.S. and continued to explore the world of dance by learning modern contemporary and Hip Hop.
She currently works with adidas in New York and enjoys reading, exploring the city, catching shows and travelling in her free time. As a national level athlete she attributes much of her principles to dance and sport.
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.