Bharatanatyam at Its Finest


A dance presentation showcasing the many styles of the most popular classical dance form of India, “Varnam … The Many Hues of Bharata Natyam,” will feature some of the finest dance companies in California is this third installment of the Nachle India series. Dancers representing four, award-winning bharatanatyam companies will highlight the similarities and differences within this dance tradition and present for the first time new collaborative work between the companies. The featured companies in Varnam include the Abhinaya Dance Company, Kalanjali Dances of India, Shakti Dance Company, and the Arpana Dance Company.

Kalanjali was founded by Katherine and K.P. Kunhiraman in Berkeley and for the last 36 years have brought the best of India’s ancient culture before public audiences in a wide variety of venues. Trained at Kalakshetra, Chennai, a premier institution for the arts, Kunhiraman was the first Indian to receive the Choreography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Mythili Kumar, artistic director of the Abhinaya Dance Company based in San Jose, was recently awarded the Isadora Duncan Sustained Achievement award for three decades of teaching, directing, and creation in the South Indian classical dance forms of bharatanatyam and kuchipudi. A premier dance company in the Bay Area, Abhinaya has produced a variety of traditional, contemporary and collaborative works.

Representing the Tanjore tradition of bharatanatyam, Viji Prakash is the recipient of the “Best Guru” award from the renown Music Academy of Chennai, India. Director of the Shakti Dance Company of Los Angeles, she has trained hundreds of young dancers in the last 32 years and is an adjunct professor of bharatanatyam in the World Arts and Culture Department at UCLA.

Based in Irvine, the Arpana Dance Company, under the guidance of Ramya Harishankar, represents the Vazhavoor style of bharatanatyam. Recipient of the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy award for her contribution to the cultural landscape of Southern California, she has performed, taught and presented in the area for nearly 30 years.

Presented by the Ektaa Center, the first center in Southern California dedicated to the arts and culture of India. Based in Irvine, the center serves the southland community with classes, events, and activities that promote an awareness and understanding of the India’s diverse and rich artistic traditions.

Sunday, April 24, 6 p.m. The Irvine Barclay Theater, 4646 Campus Drive, Irvine. $18, $28, $38. Tickets: (949) 854-4646;

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