Showcase of the choreographers announced on April 17 at the Chicago History Museum
Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, which connects audiences and students with the vibrancy, flavors and colors of South Asian performing arts traditions, returns to the stage with a choreographers’ showcase of South Asian perspectives on contemporary dance. The performance is Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m. at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street, Chicago.
Choreographers Ashwaty Chennat, Mandala’s Associate Artistic Director, and Shalaka Kulkarni, Mandala’s 2022 Artist-in-Residence, create excerpts of new work, drawing on their experiences of solo dance during the pandemic. This performance also includes a musical interlude by tabla artist Krissy Bergmark.
Chennat’s work, Alight, addresses questions such as: is it possible to find inspiration – just to live and be – without understanding what awaits us? Without friendship and conversation? The artist can be seen as a metaphor for the process of existing: what do we draw from when we are totally alone? . Using Zoom conversations, digital art creation, and various disjointed collaborations during the pandemic, Alight explores creating in isolation and where we can turn to ground, comfort, and nurture during challenges we universally encounter. Chennat collaborates with experimental sound artist PM Tummala to create a haunting score and dancers Misha Talapatra and Tuli Bera.
Ashwaty Chennat is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist and Associate Artistic Director of Mandala. With a background in Bharatanatyam dance, she draws on her experience and training in dance, music and theater to develop and evolve her practice. With Mandala Arts, she has directed and choreographed works throughout the Midwest. Highlights include Firebird Suite at the Chicago Symphony Center, Masks and Myths at the Logan Center for the Arts, and the annual Mandala Makers Festival. She has developed new works with support from the Ragdale Foundation, City of Chicago, Pivot Arts, 3Arts and the Chicago Dancemakers Forum.
Kulkarni’s still untitled work is a study between tradition and exploration. Based on the idea of myths in Indian culture, the work merges two classical Indian dance forms, Bharatanatyam and Kathak, with other forms of movement, text and technology. The work takes the viewer through an absurd day in the life of a mythical goddess reincarnated and identified as a woman from Indian culture. Born as a human for a month in 2085, she meets her followers and explores the realities and expectations of women through text, a hybrid form of classical Indian dance, and interactive technology.
Shalaka Kulkarni studied Bharatnatyam and Kathak in her native India. Her practice intersects classical Indian dance with other forms, texts and technologies. She explores feminine identity and erased narratives, in Western and Indian cultures, through dance. Her dance aims to illuminate the undocumented history of classical Indian dance forms that she discerns in the wider Indian culture and to share a personal experience of life in the Indian diaspora. She has performed her original work in India and Chicago at Prop Thtr Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, Rhinofest, Links Hall and as part of the virtual Mandala Makers Festival. In addition to her residency with Mandala, she is a 2022 Artist-in-Residence with High Concept Labs.
Krissy Bergmark is a tabla player, percussionist, composer and educator. She centers her creative work on bringing tabla to new genres and cross-genres through composition and performance with a grounded understanding of the traditions of the instrument. She has received commissions and grants through the Cedar Commissions, the Jerome Foundation, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the Minnesota State Arts Board for her tabla studies and compositions for tabla, percussion, and strings. She composes and performs with her progressive folk trio Sprig of That, experimental duo Lo.mocean and various other artists in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Chicago and New York. She is a teaching artist with Mandala.
Mandala Arts presents a showcase of choreographers
Sunday April 17 at 3 p.m.
the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark Street.
Tickets are $25 and are available at
All programming is subject to change.
Mandala South Asian Performing Arts
Mandala connects audiences and students to the vibrancy, flavors and colors of South Asian performing arts traditions, providing powerful engagement with unique and expert dancers, musicians, storytellers, artists and educators whose origins range from the Himalayan ranges to the Indian Ocean. , from Persia to Indonesia. The Mandala ensemble’s dancers and musicians, teaching artists, artistic collaborators, and outreach partners bring folk and classical traditions, as well as current and hybrid innovations, to life. Mandala promotes cultural awareness and exchange through entertainment and education.
Mandala South Asian Performing Arts is supported by the Richard Driehaus Foundation, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Arts Council Agency of the Illinois. Shalaka Kulkarni’s residency is supported by the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
For more information, visit mandalaarts.org.