Sangam Commissions Program One
Kasi Aysola, Rukshikaa Elankumaran, Shyama Sasidharan and Divya Shreejit Kumar
Now in its 3rd year, Sangam is a platform for emerging and established South Asian-Australian artists to learn, create and showcase art alongside globally renowned artists from the South Asian Diaspora. The Artistic Directors of the festival Priya Srinivasan, Hari Sivanesan and Uthra Vijay are excited about the opportunity to have 6 short commissions presented at Dancehouse in two triple bills each night. Over four jam-packed weekends, from February 20 to March 13 2021, and across four venues, Abbotsford Convent, The Drum Theatre, Bunjil Place and Dancehouse, this year’s festival features 100+ artists bringing an eclectic array of music, dance, spoken word, comedy, classical and experimental performances to the stage. Sangam is in partnership with MAV and guided by BlakDance.
In this session at Dancehouse, Sangam presents the first triple bill of newly created works by extraordinary South Asian classical-contemporary dancers. These artists were mentored by renowned dancers Priyadarsini Govind, Mavin Khoo and Dr. Chandrabhanu to create new works, which premiere at Dancehouse between March 11 and 13.
Kasi Aysola’s work Eyes explores the fragmented and multiple viewpoints and perspectives of the God who falls from grace.
Shyama Sasidharan and Divya Shreejit Kumar’s duet Melbourne Rasa focuses on the migrant emotional and political struggle to ‘belong’ by investigating multiple emotional landscapes using both screen and live performance.
Rukshikaa Elankumaran’s work Amma: The Loss of our Motherland uses classical Indian dance and is based on the Tamil Eelam liberation struggles in Sri Lanka exploring the emotions Tamil refugees and migrants experienced when they fled the country fearing persecution and genocide.
Sangam Dance Mentors: Priyadarshini Govind, Mavin Khoo and Dr Chandrabhanu
Artists: Kasi Aysola, Rukshikaa Elankumaran, Shyama Sasidharan and Divya Shreejit Kumar
Music/Composition (Eyes, Kasi Aysola): Ramya S. Kapadia
Lighting Design and Operation: Jack Wilkinson
Kasi Aysola is a dance artist who is making his mark in the United States. He is the Co-founder & Artistic Director of Prakriti Dance, an innovative dance company. Kasi is a dancer, choreographer, and nattuvangam artist of Indian performing traditions who trained under Guru Viji Prakash in Bharata Natyam and under Mythili Prakash. He has also trained in Kuchipudi under late Guru Vempati Ravi Shankar and Yamini Saripalli. Kasi is pursuing both forms with the intention to inspire new generations of dancers to delve into the enriching world of Indian performing arts.
Shyama Sasidharan is a performing artiste and a dance and yoga educator. She holds a Master’s degree in Performing Arts from India and specialises in Kuchipudi dance. She has been a movement enthusiast and has learnt the basics of Kalaripayattu (Indian Martial Art) in addition to Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattom. She is in a process of identifying a movement vocabulary from her cross-disciplinary trainings. She has worked at various educational institutions including the University of Melbourne and Hawthorn Primary School. Shyama is an active member of Melbourne’s Indian art community and have performed as a solo artiste and in collaborations alike.
Divya Shreejit Kumar is a Bharatanatyam artist with an active practice in performance, teaching and choreography. Her 25 years of dance practice includes a brief stint at Mohiniattam. She continues to progress her training in interrelated aspects of the art including rhythm, notation, composition, and choreography. Divya prefers to work on lesser negotiated topics that address human emotional issues, she recently presented a new choreographic work on postnatal depression. Divya has an active presence in Melbourne’s community arts scene. She is a member of Karma Dance’s touring group and has performed at MCG, Woodford Folk Festival (Queensland) and in Byron Bay.
Rukshikaa Elankumaran is an upcoming Bharathanatyam dancer based in Melbourne. She regularly performs in Chennai during the Margazhi season and has staged many performances both nationally and internationally. She is a senior teacher and choreographer at Nadanalaya Academy. In addition to dance, Rukshikaa is currently undertaking her Honours year in Psychology at Monash University. She is currently part of the ECP program of choreographers at Dancehouse for 2021 and working with Priya Srinivasan.
Ramya S. Kapadia is a Durham-based Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, instructor and a Carnatic vocalist (South Indian classical dance & music forms). She received initial training in Bharatanatyam from Smt. Santha Gopinath of Kalakshetra and later from Smt. Kripa Baskaran, Brookfield, WI. Her vocal training began under her mother Smt. Gayathri Sundaresan, advanced by Late Guru V. Vamanan, Mumbai, India. Ramya has toured all over the United States & abroad to present solo & group works. She regularly provides vocal accompaniment to dancers around the world and composes music for their productions. Ramya has dabbled in a bit of Indie-pop and Indo-Jazz music during her undergraduate years in Mumbai.
Sangam is a proud partner of MAV and are supported by Creative Victoria, Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne, City of Greater Dandenong and Yarra City Council. Sangam venue partners are Dancehouse, Abbotsford Convent, The Drum Theatre and Bunjil Place. Sangam has been guided by Blakdance and supported by Ausdance Victoria, Peril Magazine and SouthAsian Today.