Dances of India participating artists are professionals (8) and dance graduates (10) from various schools. In addition, there are 100 students with varying talents and skills.
In 2017 Dances of India will celebrate its 40th season, a significant milestone for any arts organization. Celebrating more than 30 years of performing, Dances of India has four principal activities:
Dances of India has an eclectic collection of works in its repertoire; in addition to traditional solos, duets, and dance dramas, such as The Ramayana, The Magic Swan, The Magic Grove, Secrets from the Indian Storybook, and Narasimha, (all based on classic Indian myths) , the company has pushed the boundaries of traditional Indian dance with the following pieces:
The Nutcracker and Swan Lake—traditional Indian dance done to Tchaikovsky’s original score. (Swan Lake was performed in collaboration with Dance St. Louis)
- Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, A Midsummer’s Night Dream—all these pieces incorporated traditional Indian dance to a “fusion” music—i.e., music which mingles both Western and Indian beats and melodies.
- Tara—a Tibetan Buddhist dance drama, using the chanting of Buddhist monks in music fused with both Indian and Tibetan melodies.
- Rhapsody for the Blue Gods—a truly unique confection of American melodies and Indian rhythms! A script narrating episodes from the life of Rama and Krishna, Hinduism’s blue deities, was recorded over George Gershwin’s beloved classics An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue. Indian dance was performed to the music.
- An Incantation of Incarnation—the Ten Wondrous Lives of Vishnu—this piece narrated the ancient myth of the ten wondrous lives of Vishnu to Strauss' Tales of the Vienna Woods and Ravel's Bolero---a truly eclectic, enchantic concoction of Indian myth and Western music.
- Akbar's Magic Trunk--Possibly the first time classical Indian dance was fused with live magic! Keith Jozsef, a professional illusionist, dazzled the audience with impossible-to-believe illusion in this suspensful, humorous dance drama that took place in Akbar the Great's court. Kiran Rajagopalan, a rising star in the world of classical Indian dance, played the part of Akbar.
- In 2015 the company presented INCANDESCENT: The Luminous Love-Story of the Sun. In this fully narrated piece we gave a very poetic touch to the romantic tale of Surya, deity of the sun, and Sajna, the daughter of the cosmic architect. Kiran Rajagopalan played Surya, Theckla Mehta choreographed the piece, and Nartana Premachandra wrote and narrated the script.
- In 2016 the company presented an originally scripted production entitled The Music of Water--Tales of Adventure, Love, and Magic along India's Sacred Rivers. This production featured stories in which the goddess Saraswati--goddess of imagination, learning, intellect--played leading roles. She is very rarely highlighted in a production, as she is quite an erudite abstract goddess. But, we made it happen--and had a lot of fun along the way.
Dances of India partners with the St. Louis Public Schools, the Vaughn Cultural Center and the University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL) to present Indian arts in a educational curriculum each spring and fall to more than 2500 area students (ages 6-13) a large proportion of whom are African-American. The purpose for these presentations is to promote arts education and encourage children at an early age to be more open and receptive to foreign traditions.
Dances of India has performed in several regional cultural institutions such as the International Institute, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Public Library, and the St. Louis County Library system. Other public and private venues for artistic demonstrations include senior citizen centers and high schools, both in the city and county of St. Louis. Approximately 3000 children and adults participate in our outreach activities annually. In addition, Dances of India has performed in dozens of corporations in the St. Louis metropolitan area, such as Anheuser-Busch, Enterprise Rental, Citi Mortage, American Family Insurance, and At & t , among many others.
Dances of India sponsors and coordinates an annual dance showcase--the St. Louis Dance Festival Showcase, now in its 18th year--representing various dance styles in the spring of each year (ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop, folk, flamenco, African, middle Eastern, Indian, and others). In 2014, for the 15 th Annual St. Louis Dance Festival Showcase, more than 30 companies participated. Please see the Events page for more information.