AUG 15 | India Independence Day


Battery Dance continues the tradition established in 1993 of celebrating India’s Independence Day (August 15, 1947) by devoting an entire Festival program to the magnificence of Indian dance in its many forms.


Introduction by Mr. Ranhir Jaiswal, Consul General of India in New York City.


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Sutradhar & Co-Curator of Festival’s India Independence Day’

RAJIKA PURI, narrator/sutradhar (or ‘carrier of the thread’), and co-curator for Battery Dance Festival’s India Independence Day, is known for her form of danced storytelling in English – Sutradhari Natyam – in which she not only dances and sings but also plays a range of characters. A scholar and lecturer, she is trained in two forms of Indian dance: Bharatanatyam & Odissi.



Contemporary Kathak

Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan serve as co-choreographers and dancers in this three minute excerpt from the new production, Samsara. Inspired by the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” it traces the steps we take, both forward and backward, in search of our higher selves. Drawing on thinking and imagery at the heart of Buddhist philosophy, Samsara explores some of the 81 obstacles and 6 states of mind that can hold us back. Epic mythological storytelling merges with personal experience and anecdotes from two globally opposite perspectives in an evocative landscape.

Composer:  Nicki Wells; Costume: K H Lee; Dramaturg:  Lou Cope; Lighting Designer: Yaron Abulafia; Set Designer: Tina Tzoka; Technical Director: Salvatore Scollo; Commissioned by Bagri Foundation

About the Artists

Aakash Odedra founded the company that bears his name in Leicester, U.K., in 2011, with Anand Bhatt. Born in Birmingham, Aakash trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak before moving to India as a student of the renowned Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Davar. Aakash is a globally recognized and Bessie Award-winning artist, and he has performed over 300 full-length performances in 40 countries. Hu Shenyuan is an independent dancer/choreographer who began his performing career in Beijing with LDTX Dance Company, gained international recognition in Yang Liping’s production Under Siege at Sadler’s Wells in London, and received awards in Rome, Seoul and China.



Amorphous – The Zero Moment

Contemporary Kathak

A coming together of the original work ‘ZERO MOMENT’ choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas (Timeless | 2006) and her current creative impulse during the lockdown. The questions came loaded with anxiety. Time slowed and she was able to reach out and reach in. Finding expanse in her mind, body, and heart allowed her to find creativity in existing realities.

About the Artist

Aditi Mangaldas is a leading dancer and choreographer in the classical Indian dance form of Kathak, who is recognised for her artistry, technique, and eloquence. Besides dancing and choreographing classical productions, she has used her knowledge of Kathak to evolve a contemporary dance vocabulary. Aditi has won critical acclaim across the world and was nominated in the category of outstanding performance (classical) by the National Critics Circle Awards 2017 in the UK. She was awarded both the State and National Sangeet Natak Academy Award India, in 2007 and 2013 respectively, both of which she declined to accept due to compelling reasons. Aditi heads the Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company-The Drishtikon Dance Foundation.



Swara Pallavi | World Premiere


A haunting melody suffuses the garden, animating the sculptural figures of the dancers, bringing this duet to life in choreography by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra reimagined by Bijayini Satpathy, with music by Pandit Bhubaneswar Mishra recorded by artists from Orissa. Filmed and Edited by Mahesh Bhat for its premiere at the Virtual Battery Dance Festival, 2020.

About the Artists

Bijayini Satpathy, Choreographer, is acclaimed as one of the foremost masters of Odissi in the world today. After studying at Orissa Dance Academy, in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India, she joined Nrityagram in 1993 and became the solo debutant in 1997. She studied with Nrityagram as a performer, teacher, research scholar and administrator until 2018. She has collaborated with Surupa Sen and has toured globally with Nrityagram for 25 years. Her 2019 US debut of “Kalpana – The World of Imagination” was received with great appreciation. Akshiti Roychowdhury, Dancer, has trained with Bijayini Satpathy for 9 years. As a residential student of Nrityagram for 7 years and a former member of Nrityagram Ensemble, she has also had extensive training with Surupa Sen and Pavithra Reddy. She was a part of Nrityagram’s “Śriyaḥ” at the White Light Festival, presented by Lincoln Center in 2016, and “Saṃhāra – Revisited” at the Metropolitan Museum, 2018. Prithvi Nayak, Dancer, has trained under Surupa Sen since 2012.  As a former member of the Nrityagram Ensemble, she has also been trained by Bijayini Satpathy and Pavithra Reddy. She was a part of Nrityagram’s “Śriyaḥ” at the White Light Festival, presented by Lincoln Center in 2016, and “Saṃhāra – Revisited” at the Metropolitan Museum, 2018.





Koormavatarm depicts the tortoise avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, portrayed by Kapila Venu, renowned performer of the ancient ritualistic theater/dance form of Koodiyattam and the specialty of female performers, Nangiarkoothu.  Originating from the Southwestern State of Kerala, India, Koodiyatam is recognized as a ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  A combination of ancient Sanskrit Theater with an even earlier form called Koothu (6th Century BCE) this storytelling performance uses a language of facial expression, arm gestures and postures, to convey texts to the congregants, usually in the confines of a Hindu Temple. Performances often go on for days and nights, rendering a mood of deep meditation and spirituality.

About the Artist

Kapila Venu is widely recognized as a leading exponent of Koodiyattam today. Trained by masters of the form including her father, G. Venu, Kapila has devoted her life to the preservation and propagation of this rare form of performance, requiring exquisite control and concentration not only of the body but especially of the face. She received the coveted Ustad Bismallah Khan Yuva Puraskar for young artists from the Sangeet Natak Akademi and many other awards.


World Premiere


A Battery Dance Festival world premiere, we witness the time-lapse filming of the 3-hour process in which classically trained dancer Pradeesh Thiruthiya is transformed into Bhagavati, the Mother Goddess, who presides over the ritualistic dance form of Theyyam. Observed in a religious festival context, and normally performed in front of the temple, the Purappadu signifies human beings transformed into god or goddess through art.  Theyyam ceremonies can involve jumping through fire and stylized dances that find their roots in earlier forms that date back millennia, specific to the people of the Northern parts of Kerala.  Film credits:  Guru Surjith Paniker, Director; Pradeesh K. Thiruthiya, Bhagavathi; Makeup, Rajeesh; Chenda (drum) Vinod & Vishnu; Elathalam (bronze cymbals) Rajith; Camera, Prakash.  Thanks to Guru Rajesh and Bargava Kallari Sangam.  Assistant, Sandeep.

About the Artist

Pradeesh K. Thiruthiya hails from the city of Kozhikode (Calicut) in Northern Kerala.  He was trained in Bharatanatyam by the legendary gurus Dhananjayans, performed with Mrinalini and Mallika Sarabhai at Darpana in Ahmedabad, danced in Berlin as part of the Hebbel Theater and in London with Srishti – Nina Rajarani Dance Creations. He has toured internationally with the troupe of Ananda Shankar Jayant for whom he also created choreography. Engaged in a quest to understand and immerse himself in the form native to his home, he sought out the guidance of a great master and was initiated into the form of Theyyam by Guru Surjith Paniker.


Grapple | World Premiere


Darkness & light, the two shades, bring out their co-existence and duality. As we grapple, we search for light amidst the darkness. The unknown and the uncertain may bind us, but we attempt to burn it out. We may time and again be pulled by it, but we strive to leave it behind and dissolve ourselves into the light.

About the Artist

Trained in traditional and Indian contemporary dance forms, Santosh Nair has led Sadhya Dance since 1999. He acted as Artistic Director for the Moving Earth Project, and his company performed in the Ganga-Danube Festival under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. Sponsored by the ICCR, he directed the Janadriyah Festival and performed in Manila during the Indian President’s visit. He has received a PhD Art & Culture Samman, Atal Behari Vajpayee Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Guru Samman Award.



Two Minutes of Movement


An amalgam of vocabularies, primarily for the joy of dance, is juxtaposed against the urban landscape of the Ghent skyline. This work represents an exploration into choreography in different media as well as video-dance making.

About the Artist

Sooraj Subramaniam grew up in Malaysia, training in Bharatanatyam, Odissi, ballet, and contemporary dance forms. He continued training in Australia, graduating from Western Australian Academy for Performing Arts. He co-directed Mudhra Dance Company and has worked in the UK with Srishti – Nina Rajarani Dance Creations, Akademi, Balbir Singh Dance Company and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance. Sooraj lives in Belgium where he freelances, presents solo classical work, and collaborates with choreographers.  He performed in the 2016 Battery Dance Festival.



Shambho Mahadeva


Lord Shiva’s celestial dancing is imagined in the story of the birth of the Ganges River. Vishnu answers his devotees’ prayer for water, letting loose Ganga from his footprints. As the waters flow, Ganga transforms from a peaceful stream to a torrential flood. Shiva then unties his matted locks and traps Ganga in his hair, releasing a small, controlled river that became the Ganges we know.

About the Artist

As a Belgian-Greek Bharatanatyam dancer who hails from Texas, Sophia Salingaros has devoted herself to the art which knows no cultural or religious boundaries. Sophia studied with Guru Dr. Sreedhara Akkihebbalu and Kalaimamani Rama Vaidyanathan. She has performed at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts and Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai, India. As an ICCR Empaneled Artist, 2013 Young Arts Finalist, and 2017-2018 IndianRaga Fellow, she performed at the World Government Summit and toured internationally with Rama Vaidyanathan. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in chemistry.





Soorpanaka lives on, reliving the events in the Dandaka forest. Smitten by the physicality of Ram how does she approach with a proposal? And what the outcome of the proposal? What wrong did she to be physically deformed like this by her brothers?

About the Artist

As a noted Kuchipudi artist. Sreelakshmy Govardhanan has gained renown for her grace, exquisite footwork and abhinaya (acting technique). She has received titles and honors including ‘Kalashree’ from Kerala Sangeetha Nataka akademi- Kerala state award, Adithya Vikram Birla Kalakiran Puraskar, and the Silver Conch from Keli. A graded artist of Doordarshan and empaneled artist in the ICCR “established” category, Sreelakshmy headed the Kuchipudi team at the “Made In India” program at Hannoer Messe 2015 in Germany. Sreelakshmy serves as founding artistic director of the Avantika Space for Dance.



Gallan Goodiyaan


Video from 2015 film “Dil Dhadake Do”, starring Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar, with music by Shankar Mahadevan, Yashita Sharma, Manish Kumar Tipu, Farhan Akhtar, Sukhwinder Singh.

About the Artist

Zoya Akhtar premiered her first feature “Luck by Chance” in 2009 and continued subsequently with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once) and Dil Dhadakne Do (Let the Heart Beat). She has also directed two short films in the Netflix Anthology “Lust Stories” and “Ghost Stories” and created, with Reema Kagti, the popular web series, “Made in Heaven,” for Amazon Prime Video. Set in the slums of Dharavi, her fourth film, Gully Boy, has brought Mumbai’s underground Hip-Hop scene into the mainstream.