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10th Annual Fall Festival of Indian Arts

Dakshina is pleased to welcome a diverse and international roster of artists for DC’s signature 10th annual Fall Festival of Indian Arts.


September 20, 6:00 pm FREE community performance featuring DC region Indian dance schools, The Forum;     8:00 pm opening performance and featured guest artist performance, Sidney Harman Hall

September 21, 6:00 pm FREE community performance, The Forum; 8:00 pm opening performance and featured guest artist performance, Sidney Harman Hall

September 22, 2:00 pm FREE community performance; The Forum; 4:00 pm opening performance and featured guest artist performance; Sidney Harman Hall

September 27 6:00 pm FREE community performance, The Forum; 8:00 pm opening performance and featured guest artist performance, Sidney Harman Hall

September 28, 6:00 pm FREE community performance, The Forum; 8:00 pm opening performance and featured guest artist performance, Sidney Harman Hall

All performances take place at Shakespeare Theatre, 610 F St NW, Washington, DC 20004.

Festival Sponsors

This year’s events are brought to you in cooperation with the Embassy of India, and with partial support from the ICCR, NEA, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Featured Artists

Leela Samson (Bharata Natyam) and Sadanam Balakrishnan (Kathakali)

Samson and award winning Kathakali dancer Sadanam Balakrishnan present their jointly choreographed work depicting the life of a heavenly nymph on earth, her marriage to a human king, and their inevitable but heart wrenching separation when the nymph’s time on earth is done.  Esteemed DC critic George Jackson described Samson’s 2011 performance in DC as follows: “[Leela Samson’s] dancing has been an alloy of flesh, velvet and willpower since I’ve known it and this time she had to will her body to obey more emphatically than before. Obey it did and her marvelous balances lasted untremored. With one leg raised at an angle in front and the clearly articulated arms floating, Samson’s right index finger was poised in expectation as the light on her faded – undoubtedly it was eternity for which she was waiting.”

Astad Deboo

Known for his masterful blend of folk, traditional, and contemporary movement styles with theater, Astad Deboo performs an evening of solo works that span the range of human emotions.  He has extensive training in the Kathak and the Kathakali styles (Indian classical dance forms). Deboo trained in the Martha Graham dance technique and was an apprentice under Pina Bausch of the Wuppertal Dance Company and Alison Chase of the Pilobolus Dance Company. Along with these and other experiences with various dance companies in Japan and Indonesia, he has created a dance theatre style of his own.

Madhavi Mudgal Dance Company

Madhavi Mudgal epitomizes the elegance and sophistication that are the result of blending modern sensibilities with the ancient ethos of eastern India to create the highly lyrical dance art of Odissi.  Mudgal’s command over the nritta or purely ornamental aspect of Odissi is striking. Her delicate postures and strong rhythmic footwork combine in an appealing flow of sculpturesque movements. Her subtle abhinaya (the expressional aspect of dance), musical knowledge and aesthetic sense add to the highly distinctive character of her recitals.

Sheejith Krishna Dance Company

A riveting performer with the ability to create entire worlds out of thin air and transport audiences into them, Krishna has played significant lead roles in almost all of Kalakshetra Repertory’s ensemble productions to critical and popular acclaim.  These include Lord Rama, the hero, and, the villain, Ravana, both roles he made his own in Kalakshetra’s monumental six-part Ramayana series.  Critics have repeatedly noted his immaculate technique and sense of rhythm, and the wide-ranging emotional canvas of his emotional portrayals.

Shanta and VP Dhananjayan

Shanta and V.P.Dhananjayan – are a phenomenon in the field of Bharata Natyam. Deservedly, they have both been bestowed the prestigious Padma Bhushan (presidential award) for their outstanding contribution in this sphere. The unique couple, who complement each other perfectly, have been steeped in classicism and are yet willing to explore the new without compromising on tradition.  At age 70 and 74, Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan have distilled the essence of emotions into their dancing.  Each gesture and expression speaks volumes.  They have illumined the national and international scene of Bharata Natyam for the past four decades.

US-based artists

Gowri Koneswaran

Gowri Koneswaran is an accomplished DC-based poet and singer.  A former Lannan Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library, her work has appeared in several publications. Koneswaran has been a featured poet at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and also performs regularly at local venues.

Alif Laila

Alif Laila brings her musical display of serenity and emotion from the Sitar—the soul of South Asian classical music.  Alif has been prolific in the studio, recording with world-renowned tabla artists like Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and Ustad Taari Khan.  An accomplished artist in both music and water colors, Alif is a long-time Dakshina friend and featured artist.

Anu Yadav

Anu Yadav is an award-winning playwright, actress and theater-based educator in Washington D.C. Her work is often connected to issues of social justice and community engagement. She received a 2008 Creative Communities Initiative grant for her work Classlines, a storytelling project about wealth and poverty in people’s lives.


Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company offers artists and audiences the unique opportunity to experience dance as a movement that links the arts, cultures, and social causes.  Dakshina means “offering” in Sanskrit.  Our company explores the definition of dance within the United States and connects it to Indian, Latin, Social, and Modern dance forms.  We hope to provide participatory opportunities in which audiences can experience dance as a system of communication, one that transcends boundaries, cultures, and time.  We are particularly committed to engage in dance not only as a means for aesthetic and artistic growth, but also as a vehicle for social change and community development.  Dakshina’s Fall Festival of Indian Arts is one of the signature events in Washington DC with a stellar roster from around the globe.  The company received the Founder’s Award for Innovation in Dance in 2007 and received the Emerging Group and Excellence in Costume Design in 2008 from the Metro DC Dance Awards.  In 2009, Dakshina received a prestigious touring grant and performed Anna Sokolow’s work in India and also was the first US based dance company to visit Bangladesh since the country’s founding 40 years ago.  In 2013, Singh received the Pola Nirenska Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to dance.