Ameya Performing Arts (Indian classical fusion dance)
Ameya had to cancel a performance in late March due to the shelter-in-place and restrictions on social gatherings, but their continued resilience has inspired them to document virtual rehearsals and share stories about their process. Many ensemble members are on the front lines of the crisis—as doctors—and many are mothers. Founded in 2016 by seven women, Ameya is committed to bringing the vibrance, energy, and grace of Indian dance to audiences all over Chicago. The troupe blends together numerous dance styles, such as Bharatanatyam, Bollywood, Bhangra, contemporary, folk, and classical, to create a uniquely passionate experience for its audiences. Ameya’s story is the evolution of its dancers’ visions, talents, and ambitions translated into a troupe’s culture, a defining movement, an art. Ameya strives to preserve the art of Indian dance by blending classical and modern styles and sharing it with a global audience.
Chethan Anant (bansuri + vocal music + tabla + composition)
Anant will offer a documentation of rehearsals and mini-performances while sheltering in place. A senior disciple of legendary flautist Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Anant has been learning bansuri, a side-blown flute from the South Asian continent, in the instrumental Maihar gharana style since 2007. Anant has performed at events across the U.S., including Bodas Music Festival (Arizona), Karnatic Hindustani Music Circle (Massachusetts), Sangeetha Natyam Academy (Michigan), and South Asian Classical Music Society. He has given solo performances throughout major cities in India. Currently he teaches in the Chicago area offering a new generational perspective. Anant was selected as an IndianRaga Fellow in 2016.
Tuli Bera (movement + video)
Bera is hoping to build on a previous solo that used multiple media—textile, movement, and video—to share her experience as a Bengali American and explore her voice in her artistry. She said, “‘Tuli’ means paintbrush in my mother tongue. A name given by my grandfather. My limbs paint memories. Memories of those that came before me. Each stroke: a desperate attempt to understand our place in this world. Reaching for answers. Raised by two. Bangali and American. My movement is in constant disagreement. Seeking to find a balance.”
Jitesh Jaggi (storytelling + spoken word + theatre)
Jaggi plans to premiere a new storytelling work during the festival weekend. He said, “I am creating a solo that combines storytelling, spoken word poetry, and theatre in an effort to entertain the audience while also spreading social awareness on issues related to immigration, race, culture shock, family, and love. I strive to leave the audience with a message of social justice, a hope to find love, and a few laughs along the way. Through my 10 years of experience in dance, performance poetry, and storytelling, I intend to push the boundaries of artistic expression, collaborate with multidisciplinary artists, and challenge prevailing cultural narratives, specifically related to the South Asian community.”
Neha Natalia Khosla (poetry + modern/contemporary movement)
Khosla, who completed Bharatanatyam training with Mandala Founder and Executive Artistic Director Pranita Nayar, is working on movement pieces in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including a collaborative project about PPE masks, and wants to build awareness around the needs of the medical community. She has spent the last year exploring the intersecting movement scene in Mumbai, where she now is part of international projects. She shared, “This project will explore the concept of examining another human, particularly from the perspective of a fetishizing gaze. I will explore the interaction between white and brown bodies, particularly women’s interactions, when the white gaze is cast upon the brown body for examination.”
Shalaka Kulkarni (storytelling + paint + movement)
Kulkarni, who also completed Bharatanatyam training with Mandala’s Pranita Nayar, is an award-winning Chicago-based choreographer whose work is rooted in video and storytelling. She said, “My interest is in using movement and paint to build a series of multiple art works revolving around exploring what gets left behind in the human subconscious with a darker vs. a lighter memory. The pivotal question I am exploring artistically is: How does our memory evolve, devolve, and change in our imagination as time passes by? Time is an obvious element that factors in how we perceive any of our memories. For personal reasons, I am exploring the question: How do we inspect time when certain memories block our way of imagining how to live a life; does time feel stagnant or racing by?”
Geeta Rao (paint)
Rao, hoping to collaborate with one or more performing artists, shared, “I have been trying to tell stories, as I observe and interpret them, through my art. I do so to bridge the gap between the old and new and different cultures, different age groups, different eras, and different thought processes. I intend to start conversations and thought processes that lead to better understanding of some common issues that don’t get discussed unless they find a trigger. Basically, I try to provide the trigger without a shock factor, without it being controversial or depressing. The intention of my art is to be an object of beauty with a purpose.”
Grishma Shah (digital storytelling + mixed media)
By championing stories about diversity, Shah’s vision is to introduce new narratives on beauty and worth into the global community through the art of storytelling in cinema, paintings, and mainstream media. With the festival’s move to a virtual platform, she plans to share work created in response to the effects of COVID-19.
SolAR* (animation + harp + composition + movement)
An Underwater Story will share the process of creating a mixed-media work that brings together hand-drawn animation, original music, and live dance storytelling. Deep within Earth’s oceans, roaring inside the stirring tide of changing temperatures, a special message from within the Earth’s center is released and carried forth by nature, ignited by sunlight and brought to life by the human experience. But can the gift survive long enough in the human world to live out its mission? The aim of this story is to share a message of the true magic of nature, friendship, and the gifts one can awaken within when consciously wielding love.
All events are free; donations support participating artists and festival operations.
All programming is subject to change. For information, visit mandalaarts.org.