Photo by: Shay Peretz
Parijat Desai, Choreographer/Dancer
Parijat Desai is an India-born, U.S.-raised choreographer who creates hybrids of contemporary and Indian classical dance, theater, and other movement forms yielding a “seamless blending of the new and old” (NYT). An autodidact in Indian classical music, Parijat has collaborated with various musicians to create new compositions based on the classical tradition, including several leaders of the Brooklyn Raga Massive movement. Parijat also interfaces with architecture and public space to explore human/social issues through the performing body. As a 2016–17 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence, she is developing JustLikeThat, a dance theatre work using movement, banter, live music, and whole lot of newspaper to poke fun of language in Indian news articles. Also in development: Signs of the Times, a series of short dances to jazz and R&B songs—an upcoming iteration to be performed with Broadway actress/singer Cicily Daniels.
In 2015, Parijat created Passage, a dance theater piece performed live at an iconic Le Corbusier–designed building in Ahmedabad, India, as part of the Fanatika International Theater Laboratory Festival. With a 2013–14 Fulbright-Nehru Grant to India, Parijat researched Indo-Islamic architectural sites toward the creation of the film The Palace Is Dreaming (in post-production), edited by Alla Kovgan [Nora]. In 2012–13, she developed a participatory protest score called Freedom. Safety. NOW. Other works include Quiet/Fire, commissioned by Grand Performances/LA, premiered with Taiko composer Kenny Endo, and choreography for Migritude, written by poet Shailja Patel, commissioned by the National Performance Network.
Parijat was previously an artist-in-residence at Dance Center of Columbia College (2013), Tribeca Performing Arts Center (2010–2013), and Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (2009); In Winter of 2017, she will be a guest artist at Colorado College. Parijat’s work has been presented at venues including Danspace Project, Asia Society, Queens Museum, and PioneerWorks (NYC); Skirball Cultural Center, California Plaza, and J. Paul Getty Center (LA); ODC Theater and Asian Art Museum (San Francisco); Northwestern University (Chicago); The Dance Centre (Vancouver); and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Mumbai).
Parijat Desai was a recipient of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Creative Communities Grant, Asian American Arts Alliance SOAR Grant, Durfee Foundation's Artist Fellowship, and Lester Horton Dance Award for Individual Performance. As a dancer, Desai has worked on projects for David Roussève and Lynn Dally (Jazz Tap Ensemble), and apprenticed with the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company (UK).
Parijat’s education work includes Dance In The Round, workshops for people of all abilities, in circle dance forms from Gujarat, India. She has taught contemporary dance, contemporary bharata natyam, and Indian folk and popular dance at the Stanford Dance Division, UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures, Queens College Department of Theater and Dance, Mark Morris Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, A.P. Randolph High School, DanceWave, and Brooklyn Friends Academy. She has also taught theater artists through the Theater Mitu New York Artist Intensive and Cornerstone Theater (LA).
Prior to the current work on diverse independent projects, Parijat created choreography for her ensemble Parijat Desai Dance Company from 2000–2013. Desai began developing the company in Los Angeles in 2000, and has been based in New York since 2004.
Riti Sachdeva, actor/playwright/director ritisachdeva.com/about.html
Roopa Mahadevan, vocal roopamahadevan.com
Max ZT, hammered dulcimer maxzt.com
Rez Abbasi, guitar reztone.com
Shobana Ram, Vocalist
Shobana Ram is a singer/dancer/K-12 educator whose love of vocal music grew from listening to and learning from her parents MK & Nirmala Ramasubramanian, and later under her aunt, Smt Rajalakshmi Shankar. Building on her choral, gospel, and pop a Capella singing experiences, as well as deep immersion in Bharata Natyam dance, Shobana continued Carnatic training under gurus such as, the Bombay Sisters, Smt. Jayalakshmi Santhanam, and Sri K. R. & Smt. Meera Kedaranathan (Semmangudi bani), and Marathi music with Bombay Jaishree. She had the rare privilege of learning a piece from the legendary M.S. Subbulakshmi. Shobana has collaborated on vocals and nattuvangam for choreographers Parijat Desai, Malini Srinivasan, and Satya Pradeep, and has combined vocals with her own dance performances. Of her past work with the Parijat Desai Dance Company, the NYT wrote, "Ms. Ram's singing was a gently unstoppable force of nature." Shobana is an active Teaching Artist in NYC and Long Island schools. Shobana feels privileged to be a part of Parijat's stellar crew.
Arun Ramamurthy, Violin
Arun Ramamurthy is a musician skilled both in Indian classical music, and in bringing this tradition into various contemporary music contexts. He began his training under the distinguished Anantha Krishnan, then went on to learn with the celebrated violinist brothers, Sri Mysore Nagaraj and Dr. Mysore Manjunath. He has accompanied major Indian artists such as Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna and T.N. Seshagopalan. Arun joined his guru Dr. Manjunath on two violin duet concert tours of the US in 2005 & 2007. He also released his debut CD Geethanjanli. Arun has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), Maris Music Festival (Chennai), Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis), and Gracie Mansion. Arun has performed with artists from various genres of music including jazz pianist Marc Cary, percussionist Sameer Gupta, Ragamala Dance Company, Cudamani Gamelan, and indie rock singer April Smith. Arun curates a monthly Carnatic music series at Cornelia Street Café (NYC), including an upcoming Carnatic Festival this August. Arun has conducted workshops in Carnatic music for Carnegie Hall's Global Encounters and teaches violin for Chhandayan Center for Indian Music and privately.
Sameer Gupta, Tabla
Sameer Gupta is a percussionist within improvisational styles of jazz, world, and fusion music. He plays classical tabla, jazz drumset, as well as a hybrid of the two. Jazztimes writes, “Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla.” Sameer began his training under the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain, and currently has the honor of studying with tabla maestro Pandit Anindo Chatterjee. He can be heard live and on recordings with such artists as Marc Cary, The Supplicants, Pt. Anindo Chatterjee, Pt. Ramesh Misra, Chitresh Das, Richard Howell, Snehasish Mozumdar, Srinivas Reddy, Prasant Radhkrishnan, Marcus Shelby, Parijat Desai, Stephen Kent, Sekou Sundiata and numerous other fine artists. He has played drumset at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Birla Auditorium (Kolkata), and tabla at The Lincoln Center and Asagiri Jam (Japan); and has conducted lec/dems on Indian classical music with Carnegie Hall's Global Encounters Program, and at Berkelee College of Music in Boston.
More music collaborators:
Samit Bhonik, Tabla
Tripp Dudley, Tabla
Camila Celin, Guitar
Ehren Hanson, Tabla
PAST PDDC COMPANY MEMBERS
Darlisa Wajid-Ali, Dancer
Darlisa Wajid-Ali is from Washington, D.C. where she found her love of dance and theatre at a young age, performing popular Bollywood dances for family and friends. She began formal training high school, where she was highly involved with the Theatre and Dance Departments. Darlisa pursued her love of the arts into higher education, graduating from Manhattanville College with a B.A. in Dance and Theatre. While there, she worked with renowned choreographers such as Doug Elkins, Earl Mosley, Peter Pucci and Bill Hastings. She also had the opportunity to travel to India, where she studied Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi. In addition to dancing with PDDC, Darlisa is assistant Artistic Director of the Afromoda Dance and Theater Company, a company dedicated to preserving and redefining the dance traditions of West Africa. She is also creating original works using her own unique style of movement that draws on the fusion of Eastern and Western forms of music and dance.
Mika Yanagihara, Dancer
Mika Yanagihara was born in Japan. She began her training in modern ballet at the age of two, and has since studied modern dance, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and contemporary dance. Mika initially came to train on scholarship and apprentice at the Martha Graham School in 1997-1998. She returned in 2009. She has performed at a variety of venues including television, film, expos, music videos and fashion events. She has taught jazz, modern and hip-hop and has also directed and collaborations between visual art and performance in Japan. Mika is currently working with 277danceproject, Diane McCarthy, Patricia Noworol Dance Company, and Parijat Desai Dance Company.
Danica Holoviak, Dancer
Danica Holoviak is a dance artist, potter, and practictioner of BodyTalk. She is a new addition to Parijat Desai Dance Company. Danica's BodyTalk Practice
Riyo Mito, Dancer
Riyo Mito is from Kobe, Japan. Riyo began her dance training in Ballet at an early age, and subsequently studied modern, jazz, Japanese traditional dance arts (Nihon-Buyoh and Nou-Kyogen), and rhythmic gymnastics at Takarazuka-Kita High School. She moved to New York and joined Parijat Desai Dance Company in 2006. Riyo has since trained in Horton, Graham, and Dunham techniques as well as Ballet and Jazz at The Ailey School (NY) and completed their certificate program. Riyo is also a company member of Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company (NY) since 2010 and Japan Performing Arts since 2008.
Matt Pardo, Dancer
Matt Pardo, originally from Albany New York, is a 2007 graduate of the University at Buffalo with an advanced honors B.F.A. in dance. Professionally, he has danced for the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Black Box Dance Company, Groundworks Dance Theater, Northeast Ballet Company, Balasole Dance Company, the Santa Monica Contemporary Ballet, and as the company apprentice for the River North Chicago Dance Company. He has taught and choreographed for universities, dance studios, and choreographic festivals throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Matt began working with Parijat Desai Dance Company in 2011, and is a member of the Lucinda Childs Dance Company.
PAST DESIGN COLLABORATORS
Swati Khurana, Visual Artist
Swati Khurana was born in India and raised in New York where she currently lives and works. Her videos, collages, drawings, sculptures and installations mine personal narratives and explore immigrant issues with a focus on gender, popular culture, and the seductive promises made by rituals. Khurana received a B.A. in History from Columbia University with a focus on South Asian post-colonial studies. From New York University, she received a M.A. with distinction in Studio Art and Art Criticism. Of her artwork, the NYT has called it "wry, delightful", and Platform Magazine, published in India, featured Khurana as one of “four promising talents” to watch in 2009. Her work
has been exhibited at Exit Art, Momenta Art, The Queens Museum, BronxMuseum of the Arts and Chatterjee and Lal, among other institutions. www.swatikhurana.com
Neeraj Churi, Visual Projection Design
Neeraj aka Lotus Visual has been providing visuals to parties and various events in New York, Mumbai and Amsterdam since 2005. Venues include clubs such as Touch NYC, Pacha, BB King, Highline Ballroom, Paradiso (Amsterdam) and other event spaces such as MOMA PS1, Cooper Union, Asia Society and Tribeca Performance Arts Center. As a visual artist he derives inspiration from his rich South Asian heritage with a blend of contemporary imagery. He chooses to express his creativity mixing several years of his experience as a computer professional and as a video editor. He collaborates with event promoters, DJs, bands and others artists. www.lotusve.com
Amina Ahmed, Costume Design
Amina's Work in Visual Art
Laura Williams, Light Design/Technical Direction
Laura Williams is a New York City based lighting designer and electrician. She traveled with PDDC on their India tour, after designing the company's performances at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center as part of the 2010 and 2011 Work and Show Festivals. Other favorite past designs include No Jacket Required’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged] (Under St. Mark’s, NYC and ISB, Brussels, Belgium); teatro oscuro’s award nominated Confirmation (NY International Fringe Festival), Note to Self (Manhattan Theatre Source); the award nominated IT (NY Strawberry Festival); The Actors' Fund 2009 benefit, Nothing Like a Dame (New World Stages); The Factory Girls, Our Lady of 121st Street (Stella Adler Studio of Acting). For six seasons, Laura has been a freelance designer at the French Institute/Alliance Française, NYC. She is entering her third season as Master Electrician at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.