For Immediate Release                   Media Contact: Lisa Geduldig –

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose Presents

Stories of Justice

Featuring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.    ​

Saturday, November 3, 2018 @ 7pm

​Sunday, November 4, ​2018 @ 4pm

​​School of Arts & Culture ​at Mexican Heritage Plaza​

​1700 ​Alum Rock Ave. San Jose, CA 95116


Tickets ($15-$50):

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San Jose, CA… Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose, the Bay Area’s premier South Indian classical dance company, presents its Fall production, Stories of Justice, featuring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an original dance work using the South Indian classical Bharatanatyam style of dance at ​​School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose on November 3 and 4.

Each Fall, Abhinaya presents a different theme: last year’s production, Apoorva Katha, told the story and struggles of United Farm Workers leader, Cesar Chavez.

Stories of Justice, directed by Artistic Director, Mythili Kumar, features Abhinaya Dance Company members including Rasika Kumar and 9 others. This original evening-length concert comprises a half a dozen 10-minute dance pieces and explores historical and contemporary stories of resistance, social justice and resilience. Abhinaya will tell these stories by employing the stylistic vocabulary of Bharatanatyam, a dance form that originated in the Hindu temples of India over 2000 years ago.  The dance will be accompanied by a live orchestra consisting of vocalists, violinist, saxophonist, cymbals, mridangam, and tabla percussionists.

Stories of Justice will examine the non-violent resistance strategies of Martin Luther King, Jr. to demonstrate that the fight for social justice is ongoing and that past struggles provide lessons that enable us to confront our current problems. Dance pieces will highlight struggles ranging from the Bible’s King Solomon (the judgment between two mothers over a baby) to Tamil Literature’s Kovalan and Kannagi (the unjust killing of Kovalan and the burning of the city of Madurai by Kannagi), concluding with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rasika Kumar, dancer and choreographer, will present a solo on Rosa Parks’ courage in defying bus segregation in the South. This act spurred Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to begin his first civil resistance movement – the boycott of buses in Montgomery. Abhinaya dancers will dramatically portray this and other key protests in his life, where he emphasized the principle of non-violence deriving inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s struggles in India.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s messages on non-violence and love resonate across the conflicts arising from several recent events of injustice such as the killing of black motorist Philando Castile, the arrest of two black patrons at Starbucks, and the upsurge in the Ku Klux Klan and alt-right marches.

Glossary of Terms:

Abhinaya: Abhi is the prefix meaning towards and ni (naya) means to carry. Abhinaya thus means to carry towards, i.e. to carry the spectator towards the meaning and can therefore be translated as communicating to the audience.

Bharatanatyam is an ancient classical dance form that was performed and nurtured in the temples of South India as a part of the daily worship. It presents coordinated movements of the face, eyes, and hands along with intricate rhythmic footwork. It narrates stories from Indian mythology with mime, facial expressions, and a language of gestures. The dance is accompanied by classical South Indian (Carnatic) music.

Bharatanatyam: The syllables Bha-ra-ta denote the three components of all dancing. Bha denoting Bhaava, or expression; Ra denoting Raaga, or melody; and Ta denoting Taala, or rhythm. And the word Naatyam is a general term for theatrical dance.


Mythili Kumar founded the Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose in 1980. Abhinaya has grown to be a leading multi-cultural organization in the South Bay, known both for its adherence to traditional South Indian classical dance as well as its innovative multi-cultural collaborations. Since 1986, Abhinaya has staged several full-length dance dramas choreographed by Mythili Kumar and since 2006 with additional choreography by Rasika Kumar (Principal dancer and choreographer). Abhinaya presented several times in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and in several Asian Performing Arts Festivals, and has been funded by city, state and national agencies.


Mythili Kumar (Founder and Artistic Director) trained under skilled teachers in India and performed extensively in India before moving to the US in 1978. She has been awarded several Choreographers’ Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.  She was honored by World Arts West with a Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2010, by the Bay Area Isadora Duncan Award Committee with a “Sustained Achievement Award” in March 2011, and won the 2015 Legacy Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates for her outstanding dedication to the art form.  Mythili has taught Indian dance at Stanford University, San Jose State University, and University of California, Santa Cruz.

Rasika Kumar (Principal Dancer and Choreographer) is an accomplished Bharatanatyam performer and choreographer, steeped in tradition but with contemporary sensibilities. Rasika learned Bharatanatyam from her mother, Mythili Kumar, and continued her training under several renowned teachers in India. Since 2005, Rasika has been a featured soloist, principal dancer, and choreographer for many of Abhinaya Dance Company’s season concerts. She received the Arts Council/Silicon Valley Performing Arts Fellowship in 2008. Rasika’s collaboration with San Jose Taiko garnered the two companies an Isadora Duncan Award in 2011. Rasika’s choreography for Abhinaya’s 2016 production Vaanara Leela recently won an Isadora Duncan Award for company performance.

Asha Ramesh (Music Composer and Director) is a renowned Carnatic vocalist, an experienced singer for classical dance, and an accomplished Hindustani bhajan singer. Asha received her training in India and has won several awards in her musical career. A brilliant composer, Asha composed the music for the documentary film The Visitor in 1997. Since 1993 she has composed the music for all of Abhinaya’s new productions, the most notable being for the productions Gandhi-the Mahatma (1995), The Ramayana (1997) and most recently Arjuna (2014). She has composed the music for concert-length productions for several dancers around the world. She received the Vijayalakshmi Award for best vocalist from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in 2010 and the title of Isai Arasi by Trinity Arts Festival of India, Chennai in 2013. In 1992 she founded the Ragamalika School of Music; her students have won critical acclaim all over the US.

Other dancers’ bios
Nyna Velamuri
has been learning Bharatanatyam for the last 10 years under the tutelage of Mythili Kumar. She is a regular performer in the temple and community events, including a collaborative performance in The Parting with the Noorani Dance Company. Nyna participated in the company produced Fall shows Apoorva Katha – The Remarkable Tales (2017), and Vaanara Leela (2016). In 2017, she was part of the troupe that travelled to St. Louis, Missouri as well as San Ramon, California to perform Gandhi. Nyna has been involved in the arts since the age of five, learning Carnatic music for 9 years.

Shreya Ganapathy has been learning Bharatanatyam for the last 10 years under the tutelage of Smt. Mythili Kumar and the Abhinaya Dance Company. Shreya participated in the company’s Fall 2016 show, Vaanara Leela. In 2017, she was part of the troupe that travelled to St. Louis, Missouri to perform Gandhi.  She has always been passionate about the arts, having learned Carnatic music from Smt. Jayashree Dasarathy for 6 years.

Anagha Guliam started learning Bharatanatyam at the age of 6 under the guidance of several teachers at Abhinaya, including Lakshmi Venkatesan, Malavika Kumar Walia, and later under Mythili Kumar. She participated in the Abhinaya Dance Company production, Apoorva Katha (Fall 2017). Anagha has been learning Carnatic violin from Dr. Saravanapriyan Sriraman and Carnatic vocal music from Smt. Jayanthi Umesh.

Manisha Roy was a disciple of Padma Vibhushan Dr. Yamini krishnamurthy for 15 years and danced with the troupe on different occasions including dancing in front of Sonia Gandhi. Manisha then took take a break from for her undergraduate and graduate studies. For the past year, she has been learning under Mythili Kumar.

Vaishali Ramachandran has been a student, performer and teacher of Bharatanatyam for over 20 years. She began her training at the age of 4 in Mumbai, then trained for 16 years in Bengaluru with Guru Dr Padmaja Suresh. She performed her Arangetram in 2006 and since then performed in many major dance festivals in India and the US and won great appreciation from the media and audience.

Chaitanya Gotur started to learn Bharatanatyam at the age of 7 and completed her Arangetram and Vidwath (Proficiency) in Bengaluru, India from Guru Smt. Radha Sridhar. She is a graded Doordarshan (Television) artist of India. She has performed at many National and International locations in various prestigious dance festivals. She is also a dance instructor in Swindon Dance, a government art agency of the UK .

Hemavathy A. Manoj recently moved to the Bay Area and is a dancer by passion and a Software Engineer by profession. She trained under guru Natiya Vibhooshana Krishnan from Pondicherry and has a Master’s Degree in Bharatanatyam from Tamil University, Tanjore. She has performed in various group productions in her guru’s dance company and has also done many solo stage performances across India.