Dancing the Gods: Night One - Kasi Aysola and Archana Raja (Kuchipudi)
Our annual Dancing the Gods festival of Indian Dance celebrates its 13th year, featuring some of the leading performers of Indian dance. Each night begins with a slide presentation by Rajika Puri, festival curator, and acclaimed dance storyteller.
Friday, May 10, 2024
Doors: 7 PM | Lec Dem by Curator Rajika Puri: 7:15 PM | Performance: 8 PM
Asia Society – 725 Park Ave., Manhattan
Tickets: $35 | $45 | $55 – Tickets will go on sale soon
Night One: Kasi Aysola and Archana Raja (Kuchipudi)
Kasi Aysola is a performer, choreographer, and nattuvangam artist based in the United States. Apart from his solo performances, as Artistic Director of the Prakriti Dance Company, he also collaborates with and trains artists across America. Moreover, he is renowned for his original rhythmic compositions and the musical insight with which he has accompanied dance artists like Rama Vaidyanathan, Mythili Prakash, and Janaki Rangarajan, all of whom have appeared in Dancing the Gods over the years. WMI last presented Kasi as part of our virtual Dancing the Gods festival in 2022, where he performed the world premiere of a series of Kuchipudi works. For this year’s festival, he will be joined by Archana Raja, a Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi practitioner, teacher, and choreographer based in the Bay Area who is currently a student of Kasi in the Vempati style of Kuchipudi.
About Festival Curator and Presenter Rajika Puri
Rajika Puri performed internationally in solo recitals of Bharatanatyam and Odissi for several years, before she was launched into western theatre by Julie Taymor in Lincoln Center Theater’s “The Transposed Heads”. The success of that role encouraged her to develop a form of danced storytelling she calls ‘Sutradhari Natyam’ in which she intersperses an English narration with excerpts from dances, spoken rhythms and chants as well as songs in Indian languages. In her full-length work: ‘Eleni of Sparta’ or ‘Helen of Troy’, she even sings in ancient Greek. Rajika has performed all over Latin America, Europe, Malaysia, the US and India; in New York, at the Asia Society and Ailey Theatres.
Kuchipudi is a dance form rooted in the theatrical and dance traditions of Andhra Pradesh, named for the village – also known as Kuchelapuram – where it originated. Traditionally it was performed by troupes of male actor-dancers who presented full-length plays, often lasting all night, to celebrate festivals dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Alongside this tradition developed a solo form, which is today popular around the world.