Concept and Choreography: Hema Rajagopalan & Krithika Rajagopalan
Hema Rajagopalan, Nattuvangam
Chitrambari Krishnakumar, Vocals
Kalaiarasan Ramanathan, Violin
Anvita Hariharan, Saxophonist
Voice Over: Krithika Rajagopalan
Performers: Parvathi Achari, Rathna Kalluri, Prarthana Prashanth,
Aditi Ram, Amuktha Samudrala
Lighting Design: Murugan Krishnan
Sound Engineer: Karel King
presented by Natya Dance Theatre
July 24 @ 7:00pm
Natya’s traditional opening
dancers depict the dichotomy of the divine energy manifested as all life – neither masculine nor feminine,
the half-male and half-female aspects of divinity are represented
III. Navarasa / 9 Emotions
depicting stories of Rama taken from the Ramayana, through the 9 emotions
Maya Angelou’s famous poem “The Caged Bird” is depicted thru improvisational movement and sound
V. Kriti: Saxaphone & Violin
a playful melodic journey between two instruments
dancers and instruments come together in Harmony as multiple pieces of the same composition
bringing unity to the movement, the sounds and the senses
Hema Rajagopalan, Founder & Artistic Director is the Founder and Artistic Director of Natya Dance Theatre, an organization that specializes in performing and teaching Bharatanatyam, the dance-theatre of India. Natya Dance Theatre recently celebrated its 47th anniversary this year. Hema is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer of international repute, committed to preserving Bharatanatyam in its full integrity, developing the art form in new directions and bringing it to diverse audiences.
Hema has performed as a soloist at prestigious festivals and venues throughout the world, receiving critical acclaim. Noteworthy among them are the Avignon festival in France, the Edinburgh Festival in the U.K , The Festival of India in the U.S, The Festival of India at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, and the Field Museum in Chicago, the Music and Dance festival in Chennai, and other music and dance festivals in major cities in India. Noteworthy venues being Mandapa in Paris, the NCPA in Mumbai, India, and the India International Center in Delhi. Her gurus are some of the foremost figures in Bharatanatyam: Padma Shri awardee Shri K. N. Dandayudapani Pillai and Padma Bhushan awardee Smt. Kalanidhi Narayanan.
Amongst the many prestigious awards that Hema has received are an Emmy Award for the PBS production of World Stage Chicago, seven National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Awards (the highest number ever received by any American choreographer), and, in India, the Vishwa Kala Bharathi Award for artistic excellence. In 2004, she was the first choreographer working in an Indian movement tradition to be selected by the Chicago Dancemakers Forum to create new work, and was also honored by the Bhairavi Fine Arts Society and Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana with the Nritya Seva Mani (Devotee of Dance) Award: Hema is the first US-based dancer to receive this award. In 2011, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Soorya Dance Festival in St. Louis. In 2021, she was awarded the highly acclaimed Dance Legacy Award , by See Chicago Dance recognizing her immense contributions to the dance field at large.
!n 2022, the Women’s L Project named all the Chicago L stations, recognizing 141 strong women of influence, creativity and courage. Hema Rajagopalan was given this incredible honor as she was named at the Harrison Station in Chicago; and shares this distinction amongst many other distinguished luminaries, such as Michelle Obama, Jane Byrne, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ruth Page, Betty Ford, Mahalia Jackson, and Oprah Winfrey. Most recently, Natya Dance Theatre was recognized as one of Chicago’s Cultural Treasures; one of 40 prestigious organizations in the Chicagoland area so honored.
Scores of students trained under Hema have distinguished themselves as performers, teachers and choreographers. Her teaching accolades include the Master Teacher Award from the Asian American Heritage Council and the Master Teacher Award from the City of Chicago. She has served as a dance panelist with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Illinois Arts Council, and other state arts agencies. Hema has been appointed by the Canadian government to assess Bharatanatyam dance training programs. and also conducts workshops and master classes at colleges and universities throughout the country.
Hema strongly feels that, as an artist, her task is to produce not only aesthetically pleasing performances, but also to consider her responsibilities as a citizen of the world. She is deeply influenced by the evolving cultural environment around her, and uses her art to foster cross-cultural understanding and social harmony. As a choreographer, she has created numerous short works, as well as over fifty evening-length productions that have toured to leading national and international venues.
Krithika Rajagopalan, Co-Artistic Director. is a performer, teacher and choreographer, began her dance training under her Gurus Smt. Hema Rajagopalan and Padma Bhushan Kalanidhi Narayanan. She has trained in Yoga, Kalari Payattu and also has certifications in both Gyrotonic and Pilates. Krithika is Co-Artistic Director of and Principal Dancer of Natya Dance Theatre . She has presented solo and ensemble performances at prestigious venues all over the world, including the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Music and Dance Festival of Madras, India, and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Bombay, to name a few. Highlights of her performance engagements include the honor of performing for President Bill Clinton, original commissioned performances with acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the World Music Institute NY, and working in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Lookingglass Theatre to create MainStage productions. Natya Dance Theatre has just celebrated 47 years of dance in Chicago, and Krithika hopes to continue this artistic legacy.
Krithika’s dance and choreographic credits include solos, residencies, master classes, curated curriculums for colleges and universities , as well as full productions. She has worked on collaborations with other music and dance genres on cross-cultural theatre stages, produced and written scripts for dance theatre, and continues to create awareness and accessibility for Bharatanatyam internationally. She was recognized with awards such as the Illinois Arts Council Master Teacher Award, and the Jerome Foundation Residency, as she was chosen to be the Artist in Residence at The Doris Duke Foundation in Shangri-La. In the past 10 years, she has participated in, curated, and produced multiple dance productions and conferences internationally as she continues to present on global stages.
Krithika sustains her passion to innovate art that strives to bring social awareness to the environment, global communities, and people, while staying true to the integrity of Bharatanatyam. Krithika incorporates her 33 years of experience to focus on developing a strong, holistic, healthy dancer curriculum, that supports each phase of learning. She continues to be a life learner and is extremely passionate about bringing Bharatanatyam to the next generation of audiences and torchbearers.
Shri G. Vijayaraghavan [Mridangam] is a disciple of Madurai T. Srinivasan and Kumbakonam T.V.Balu. He is one of the leading percussionists in India, and has been honored by the President of India three times. Sri. G Vijayaraghavan is a familiar figure in India, having performed frequently on All India Radio and at the Sangeet Sammelan festivals. In addition, he is a lyricist and has to his credit, a published book “Nritya Ganamrudham, and has also released a CD. He has accompanied prominent Bharatanatyam dancers in venues around the world, and critics have hailed his playing as an integral, entertaining component of these events.
He has accompanied Natya Dance Theatre in its tours abroad, and in the United States every year since 1995. Amongst the many awards that he has received are the “Laya Kala Vipanchi “, given by Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna, and the Sudharani Raghupathy Endowment Award for Senior Musicians from Narada Gana Sabha. Next month, he will be receiving the Senior Mridangist award from Abhai, the world-renowned Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India.
Smt. Chitrambari Krishnakumar [Vocals] is widely recognized as one of the leading Indian vocalists at work today. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Indian Music from the University of Madras in 1992, and her Master of Arts in Indian music from the University of Madras in 1994. Smt. Chitrambari is a B High artiste in All India Radio. As a solo artist, she has accompanied dancers in various Indian styles at leading venues throughout India, and other countries over the past twenty eight years. Additionally, she has scored the music for many ballets including “Thiruppugazh”, “Soorya-The Sun God”, “Arupadai Veedu” and “Thiruvasagam”. She was recognized with the Best Vocal Support for Dance award by Shri Krishna Gana Sabha and has been awarded for her work by VDS arts academy. In 2017, she was the recipient of the prestigious Natya Sangeetha Kala Bharathi Award from Bharat Kalachar. Smt. Chitrambari was also awarded the Gana Kala Vipanchi in 2022.
Shri Kalaiarasan Raamanathan [Violin] is one of the most popular and sought after violin Artists in the field of Bharatanatyam music. He is a disciple of Smt. Dhaanadevi Mithradeva, and graduated with Honors, from Annaamalai University, in Chidambaram, India, with the title of “Sangeetha Bhushanam”. He hails from a family of musicians, and is the son of the distinguished Vidwan, “Sangeetha Bhushanam”, Professor Thiru A.S Ramanathan, a retiree of Annaamalai University.
He has over 25 years of Carnatic Music experience , and has accompanied Bharatanatyam artistes, performing both in India, and other countries abroad. He has also participated in several music and dance DVD productions, for companies like “E-Parampara Infotainment”, and “Swaathi Soft Solutions”.
He has received the “Best Supporting Violin Artist Award for Dance” , from Shri Krishna Gaana Sabha, and the “Best Accompanying Artist Award for Dance” from V.D.S Arts Academy. Shri Kalaiarasan was also awarded, the prestigious “Sudhaaraani Raghupathy Endowment Award” for Senior Musicians, from “Natyarangam”, the dance wing of Naarada Gana Sabha, Chennai.
Anvita Hariharan [saxophone] At the age of 11, Anvita began her Carnatic saxophone training from Dr. Sumanth Swaminathan. After one year of learning from Dr. Swaminathan, Anvita continued extensive training under the tutelage of late Padmashree Kalaimamani Dr. Kadri Gopalnath and traveled to India every summer to receive advanced training from Sri Kadri Gopalnath. Anvita has also continued advanced training with Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padmashree A. Kanyakumari.
Over the past several years, Anvita has performed in several decorated venues such as Shanmukhananda Hall, Krishna Gana Sabha, Rasika Ranjani Sabha, and Vani Mahal in India, as well as festivals across North America. Furthermore, Anvita has won several awards from prestigious festivals and shows such as Cleveland Tyagaraja Festival and Carnatic Idol. She also regularly performs in and around America for marriages, traditional and fusion concerts, religious functions, and dance performances, and enjoys teaching Carnatic music on the saxophone to her students in her free time. Anvita looks to collaborate with other musicians from different genres and background and explore the bounds of Carnatic music on a western instrument.