Madhu Nataraj heads the Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography- India’s premiere institute for dance founded by legendary Guru- Dr. Maya Rao. Performer, choreographer, educator and arts entrepreneur – Madhu believes dance is a potent medium for change in the public domain. Ranging from education, social issues, creativity, and documentation to healing, her projects aim to materialize this philosophy. Madhu studied Kathak from her mother Dr. Maya Rao and from Smt. Chitra Venugopal. She studied Contemporary dance in New York and returned with a vision to create a unique dance company with its own distinctive contemporary Indian identity – the Natya STEM Dance Kampni. In recognition of her exceptional contribution to the world of dance, Madhu has been chosen as one of India’s 50 Young Achievers by ‘India Today’. She has also received the ‘Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ from the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Mohan Khokar Award for excellence in Dance to mention a few. Madhu has created over 90 choreographic works in her 25-year dance career both in the traditional and contemporary genres.
Artistic Director Janaki Patrik combines eight years of training in modern dance technique and repertoire at the Merce Cunningham studio with twenty years of training in classical north Indian Kathak in Delhi, India from Kathak’s eminent guru, Pt. Birju Maharaj. These two streams have influenced Ms.Patrik’s choreographic works. Since founding the Kathak Ensemble in 1978, Ms.Patrik has choreographed twenty-two full evening productions and numerous smaller works. Modern choreography has been created by Ms. Patrik for spaces including University Settlement, the 92nd Street Y, Toronto’s Harbourfront Theatre Centre, the Ailey Citigroup Theater, International House at the University of Chicago, DANSPACE in Manhatan and the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Dedicated to sharing her knowledge, Ms. Patrik teaches classes in classical Kathak technique and repertoire, and presents workshops taught by visiting Indian master Kathak gurus.
Artistic Director of Arzoo Dance Theatre, Deepti is a dancer/choreographer of the elegant Kathak style of dance. A disciple of Sri Munna Lal Shukla, renowned guru of the Lucknow Gharana she has also trained and worked for 10 years under the guidance of Kathak legend Pt. Birju Maharaj. Deepti holds an MA in Dance from York University, Toronto and is a noted scholar, teacher and choreographer both in Canada and India. Her choreography is at the cutting edge of contemporary South Asian dance and she has collaborated with a diverse range of international composers, musicians, and New Media artists. Her company has been commissioned to create and present work by the National Arts Centre, the Canada Dance Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts and Kalanidhi Fine Arts amongst others. A relentless experimentalist with a variety of theatrical interests she was awarded the Dora Mavor Moore award for costume design. Since 2015 Deepti has produced the Angikam-Seminar in Kathak and Choreograhy workshop to provide training in choreography to Kathak dancers in Canada. (Photo credit: Brenda Clews)