(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: San Jose, California- September, 2016)

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose presents:

Vaanara Leela – Monkeys in the Ramayana

  • DATES/ TIMES:
  • Saturday, November 12th @ 7:00PM
  • Sunday, November 13th @ 4:00PM
  • VENUE: School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza (1700 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116).
  • TICKETS: Go to Abhinaya.org or (408) 871-5959 in order to purchase tickets.

Prices: $50 VIP, $30 Preferred Seating, $20 general, $15 student w/ ID & senior, $65 family of four.

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose, the dance company that brought “Arjuna – A Warrior’s Tale” to life in 2014 to critical acclaim now presents “Vaanara Leela – Monkeys in the Ramayana“. The Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics from Hindu mythology describing Prince Rama’s journey. The most extraordinary feature in this epic is the role played by the monkeys in the forest where the prince is exiled. Prince Rama seeks the help of Hanuman, the monkey warrior venerated as a god, and Sugreeva, king of a vast monkey army to find his abducted wife, Sita.  Focusing on the story from the monkeys’ perspective, Abhinaya Dance Company’s production will dramatically portray the hordes of monkeys and their enthusiasm and energy as they set out to find Sita. When Hanuman succeeds in finding Sita in Lanka, he and the monkeys assist in building an incredible bridge of stones spanning the ocean to reach Lanka. “Vaanara Leela – Monkeys in the Ramayana” premiers on November 5th and 6th with over 15 dancers  and new choreography, promising to be another of Abhinaya’s exciting new creations.

The performance is directed by Artistic Directors Mythili Kumar and Rasika Kumar. The key role of Hanumān will be danced by Rasika Kumar (Associate Artistic Director & Choreographer). The performance features new choreography by Mythili Kumar, Rasika Kumar, Malavika Kumar and Anjana Dasu and will be performed by the dancers of Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose to music composed by veteran composer Asha Ramesh and recorded by master musicians.

DIRECTION: Mythili Kumar and Rasika Kumar

CHOREOGRAPHY: Mythili Kumar, Rasika Kumar, Malavika Kumar, Anjana Dasu

MUSIC: Asha Ramesh

DANCERS: Rasika Kumar, Malavika Kumar, Sindhu Natarajan, Anjana Dasu, Pooja Sohoni, Supriya Kalamandalam & others.

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose

Artistic Director 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. Mythili Kumar’s artistic excellence has been recognized by several NEA Choreographer Fellowships. She was honored by World Arts West with a Lifetime Achievement Award (2010) and by a “Sustained Achievement Award” from the Bay Area Isadora Duncan Award committee (2011). From 2006, Rasika Kumar (Associate Artistic Director and principal dancer) has been taking an active role in the direction and choreography of new productions presented by the company.

Abhinaya’s programs are supported, in part, by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose; the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation; an Arts Education grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Local Arts Grant from SV Creates; and individual donations and matching corporate donations.

Abhinaya Company Dancers

Rasika Kumar, Associate Artistic Director, Dancer and Choreographer

(Mountain View resident) Hailed as “among the best of this second generation of Indian dancers,” Rasika Kumar is a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer. Rasika learned Bharatanatyam from her mother Mythili Kumar, and continued her training under renowned teachers in India such as C.V. Chandrasekhar and Kalanidhi Narayanan. Since 2005, Rasika has been a featured soloist, principal dancer, and choreographer for many of Abhinaya’s season concerts. She received the Arts Council Silicon Valley Performing Arts Fellowship in 2008. In 2011, Rasika’s collaborative rhythmic arrangement with San Jose Taiko garnered the two companies an Isadora Duncan Award. See: (rasikakumar.com)  Rasika works as a software engineer at Google and is passionately continuing to perform and choreograph this ancient art form.

Malavika Kumar, dancer

(Sunnyvale resident) Malavika Kumar is the daughter of Mythili Kumar and has been her student since 1990. She has performed in many of Abhinaya Dance Company’s productions with key roles and has toured with the company to India and around the U.S.A. She also teaches classes and coaches students towards their Arangetrams (solo debut performances). Since 2006, she has choreographed solo and group pieces for company performances. In addition to dancing, Malavika has been performing nattuvangam for the company since 2000. In a 2004 performance in Chennai, she was lauded by a critic as ‘the star of the show’ for her ‘precise, well-intoned nattuvangam’.  Malavika works as a lawyer in a Sunnyvale firm and finds it challenging and fulfilling to choreograph new pieces for Abhinaya shows.

Sindhu Natarajan, dancer

(San Jose resident) Sindhu Natarajan trained under Mythili Kumar since 1994 and performed her Arangetram in 2003. She has performed in many of Abhinaya Dance Company’s productions, and has toured with the company to several US cities. Sindhu is also an accomplished vocalist in the S. Indian classical music tradition and has given several solo concerts. She has provided the vocal accompaniment for several arangetrams and for professional dancers in the Bay Area and throughout the US.  With a master’s degree in education, Sindhu teaches middle school in Palo Alto, yet finds great joy in both classical music and dance.

Anjana Dasu, dancer

(North San Jose resident) Anjana Dasu trained under Mythili Kumar for over ten years and performed her arangetram in October 2005. Since then, she has performed in several Abhinaya productions across the US and toured with the company to New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Utah, and Missouri. Additionally, she has danced with the company at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival from 2007 to  2011. Critics have praised her as “exquisite” and “a nuanced dancer with glowing stage presence.” She has also won prizes in local dance competitions. Apart from her work as a programming engineer, Anjana loves to follow her passion for dance with active roles in company performances.

Kalamandalam Supriya, dancer

(San Jose resident) Kalamandalam Supriya is a classical dancer by profession, specialized in Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam. She developed a passion for classical dance forms at a very young age and pursued classical dance education full-time under the residential schooling at the “Kerala Kalamandalam University for Arts and Culture”. She trained extensively in Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam under the guidance of great gurus and completed her bachelor’s degree in these two forms at this prestigious institution in 2011. Her vision is to expand her dancing horizon through continuous research and learning, and to apply her dancing skills in unexplored domains while maintaining the purity and divinity of the classical dance forms.

Asha Ramesh, Composer

(North San Jose resident) Asha Ramesh  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 a 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) and The Ramayana (1997). 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.  A versatile artist excelling in classical Indian music, Asha’s interest in world music sets her a class apart.