Spotlight: LATVIA

When I was fifteen, I was part of a project which brought together groups of teenagers from the US and the USSR together to live together for one month, make a play, and tour it. My group went to Latvia. We arrived on the morning of my fifteenth birthday, by train, and were greeted with flowers, singing, dancing and open hearts. This experience shaped my view of the possibilities and power of performance and international collaboration, as well as introducing me to friends I treasure to this day.

peace child  

This year, with the help and support of my friend Signe Birkova, I will meet with and begin collaboration with a contemporary theater company in Riga – Ģertrudes ielās teātris*. 


The project is inspired by a Latvian folk song/dance used to clear sacred space, to banish evil. This song was part of the performance we created together as teenagers, and it has been in my mind since then. In this song, it is dance that clears away evil and sanctifies the space. This is a ritual that exists all over the world, because all over the world, cultures throughout time have danced their nightmares away, and their dreams into existence.

*Latvian speakers – I apologize for the accents being missing accents. My email program doesn’t recognize Latvian…

Upcoming Events:
India Tour 2013 –
The Knocking Within &
He Who Burns
Bharat Rang Mahotsav Theatre Festival in Delhi, Jan 17
International Theatre Festival of Kerala, Jan 21

Latvia, February 2013 – the first phase of a new collaboration with Gertrudes ielas teatris, a contemporary theater
company in Riga.

Montreal Fringe Fest, June 2013 – The Knocking Within

Upcoming US performances:

Harvard University, April 11-13
He Who Burns
sponsored by the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association & the Harvard Pakistani Students Group, with support from the Office for the Arts

Green Space, NY, May 18 – the premiere of the evening-length incarnation of Lilith as part of the Taking Root series

Watertown Center for the Arts Blackbox Theater, Sept 4-15 
The Knocking Within

ANIKAI Worldwide Expansion – Phase One

Building on our work in the US and India, we are planning this year to push further into North America, South America, Europe, and other areas in South Asia. We’ve just launched an Indiegogo campaign to help support these efforts. I am hoping to raise a minimum of $3000 through this first campaign – $3000 in 3 weeks – just in time to take it off your 2012 taxes!

Check it out, like it, share it, and please donate!

ANIKAI Worldwide Expansion – Phase One  on Indiegogo 

Help bring our boundary-breaking performances to an ever-widening audience.


Dancing in the Frog Pond – June 29 at 11AM

Hi everyone,

Next Wednesday at 11AM, ANIKAI Dance (in this case, Mark Kranz, Kara Fili, Pradhuman Nayak and myself) will be performing a piece in the water at the Frog Pond in the Boston Common, right before Mayor Menino turns on the fountain and opens the wading pool to the public and all the kids come splashing in. Come and play!


He Who Burns at Dance Theater Workshop

The moment of Alast

ANIKAI Dance is back in NYC this July 13-16 at Dance Theater Workshop.  We’ll be performing He Who Burns, an evening-length work that explores the figure of Iblis, also known Satan, in some Sufi traditions. The performance is rooted in the ancient tradition of syncretism – combining dance and theatre, elements of Islam and Hinduism, and growing out of performance styles as divergent as Brazilian Capoeira, Japanese Butoh, Sanskrit theater, contact improvisation, West African dance and American sign language poetry. Since its Delhi and Chennai premiere performances in 2006, it has been seen The Kennedy Center, Boston University, The Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York, and  most recently at venues throughout India as part of ANIKAI’s 2011 India Tour.

Performances are July 13-16, 7:30 PM at Dance Theater Workshop.

HE WHO BURNS  is a dance-theater piece exploring the nature of humanity’s relationship with the divine, the eternal quest for unity, and the illusion of duality in the human experience. It takes our notion of good and evil, the divine and the satanic, and turns it on its head. Staged as a trio, He Who Burns takes us on a journey from the time before time, through the suffering of Iblis in his separation from his Beloved, and his quest for the same, through to his ecstatic annihilation. The performance at once parallels the Sufi quest, as outlined in the great Sufi text “Conference of the Birds” and the structure of the Bharata Natyam performance. The text, from the Persian, Arabic and Urdu of Al-Hallaj, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohammed Iqbal, Al Ghazzali, Hafiz and Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi, is performed in Urdu, English and Korean.

HE WHO BURNS will be performed by Eunjung Kim, Pradhuman Nayak, and Wendy Jehlen with music by Nandlal Nayak video by Wendy Jehlen, and a new lighting design by Holly Ko.

I’ve started a kickstarter project to help make He Who Burns Deaf-accessible (and more Hearing-accessible!)

He Who Burns contains poetry spoken mostly in Urdu, and occasionally in English and Korean.  All of the texts are projected in English, making the piece accessible both to the Hearing, English speaking audience, and the Deaf, English reading audience.  There is one section, Parishan, in which the dance is choreographed around an ASL poem, which is a version of the text spoken in Urdu and Korean, so that the Deaf/signing audience can ignore the projected text.

We also have a scholar of Sufism from Pakistan, S. Nomanul Haq, who tours with us, and who gives a pre-show talk at the beginning of each evening.  For this, the general theater announcements, and for the Q & A after the show, I am committed to having American Sign Language interpreters there.

Two years ago when we performed the piece in Boston, NY and DC, we had wonderful interpreters and significant Deaf audience at every show.  As an interpreter myself and as someone who holds Deaf culture, arts and the Deaf community close to my heart, this was a wonderful and inspiring experience.

We need to raise $1000 for the projector to project the video/text, and $500 to pay for interpreters for all four nights.

The rewards for this project are all related to the run at DTW. If you are not in NYC, come on down! Or, we’d be happy to send you a DVD, including the pre-show lecture with ASL interpretation, or you can gift the tickets and workshop spot to a friend, or take a raincheck.

I will be giving a workshop on Thursday and Friday, July 14 and 15, from 1-3 PM, in the theater space. The workshop will draw on the my choreographic process, technique, and my approach to making movement with and/or from text.

Thanks so much for your support and hope to see you there!

that’s all folks!

On February 7th the 5 U.S.-based dancers (DeAnna, Mila, Terra, Neva & Maki) began their 48 hours of travelling back to the states. Wendy and Pradhuman went to Ranchi to visit family, Kim (sixth dancer and company photographer!) went back to her home in Delhi and the tech crew went back to their daily lives in India. The parting was of course bitter sweet as it always is at the end of any intense adventure. This trip certainly was the experience of a life-time – the memories will remain with each of us forever. Thank you again to everyone who helped make this tour happen — producers, funders, technical staff, friends, family, fans, supporters. Thank you for following our journey via this blog. We hope you enjoyed the photos and stories — there are many, many more where those came from! So come to the welcome home celebration in March…so you can find out what REALLY happened in India;-) Details coming soon! until then, safe travels to you all.

bringin’ it back to Bangalore

we arrived back in Bangalore at good ole’ Hotel Pigeon for the last leg of the tour. Our second trip to Bangalore was certainly more successful than our first (you may remember from past blogging that the first time around all of our shows in Bangalore were cancelled due to the general strike). This time our three shows at Alliance Francaise went off without a hitch. It was a smaller venue than those of late, but the audiences were warm and wonderful. We wrapped up the tour with a “Farewell to India” party back at the hotel in celebration of our successful month-long tour AND in honor of Mila’s Birthday!!! which was February 7th. The following morning, bright and early at 5 am, the five U.S.-based dancers began their LONG journey home…

livin’ large in Hyderabad

our producers in Hyderabad put us up in a fabulous posh hotel complete with a vegetarian buffet that was to die for (put the savera in chennai to shame!). during our 3 day stay we performed 3 sold-out shows at the Abhinaya Theater, taught 2 workshops to middle schoolers and greatly enjoyed our lush, comfortable accomodations. the press we received in hyderabad was intense. we couldnt keep up with the articles and photos that were showing up in the papers every day! then on february 4th we boarded a plane to banglore for the last leg of the tour!!

workshop for actors at the school of drama, thrissur

Our final teaching appointment in Thrissur took us to the Calicut School of Drama, the alma matter of many in our tech crew. These future actors and directors took to our classes with such passion! They communicated their heart felt appreciation for by in many ways, including volunteering their help for our performance. They hung lights, transformed dirty spaces into green rooms, and we were happy to procure a new stage manager, Maniprasad; a small man with a big personality! (“money” can be seen in the above photo, far right, talking on the phone)