Dances of India was founded in St. Louis by Asha Prem (right) in 1976. It was the first classical Indian dance company to be established in Missouri. She performed for years in India, including before a former President of India, before coming to the US.
Theckla (Ila) Mehta (below), one of Asha Prem’s first students, is now Artistic Co-Director. She has always been a prominent member of the company, assisting in artwork, props, and choreographing Dances of India's unique dance-dramas.
Nartana Premachandra, a writer, classical Indian dancer, and
public speaker, is now President of Dances of India.
She has danced and performed classical Indian dances all her life; please visit her website, Nartana Prem's site. www.NartanaPremachandra.com
Patrick Suzeau, a Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, has been participating in Dances of India performances for over a decade. He performs both Bharata Natyam and pieces fused with Indian and modern elements.
Kiran Rajagopalan, (M.A. Bharata Natyam, University of Chennai) a young, dynamic, extraordinarily graceful professional classical Indian dancer, has participated with Dances of India in several of its annual performances.
More than seventy students have completed their arangetram (dance graduation performance) with Dances of India, both in St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri (where Asha Prem has been teaching for over a decade). An arangetram requires years of training and dedication from the student to this complex art form.
We are deeply saddened at the passing of Dr. B.N. Premachandra, President of Dances of India.
We would not be the company we are without him; his dedication to dance (not just Indian dance) for the sake of its musical beauty and inherent joy is what has kept us going for 40 years. And we're going to keep going---for he'd say, without hesitation,
Official Company Photographer: Mike Oransky www.MikeOransky.com
In addition, Dances of India believes in the power and beauty not simple of Indian dance, but of dance itself! The company believes Indian dance can enchant as well as educate all members of the community, from children to senior citizens (Dances of India has performed in many senior citizen homes), from underserved minority communities to the population at large.
Dances of India’s mission is to preserve and broaden the knowledge of the traditions of India through classica/folk dance performances and workshops, as well as by collaborations with local dance companies, and to engage in multicultural outreach activities.
Thus company members have performed in a variety of settings, such as on a burning hot stage at the VP Fair (workers had to spread ice upon it to cool it down), in a downpour at the Warrenton, MO International Festival, in a carpeted cafeteria of a St. Louis corporation.
As the company delights in the many styles of dance around the globe, it initiated the St. Louis Dance Festival Showcase, now in its 18th year! This Festival has grown in popularity—so much so that the number of participating companies in this unique homegrown event has tripled since 2000, the year of its inception.