Guru Prasanna Kasthuri
Guru Prasanna KasthuriWhen Raghusutha, Prasanna’s father put his son under a dance teacher for dance learning in 1975, he was remembering his visit to Calcutta in 1950’s, which was in search of learning dance from the legendary dancer Uday Shankar (brother of Bharatha Rathna Pandit Ravi Shankar). Raghusutha achieved his dream to dance, through his children. Prasanna, eldest of the three, is an established performer and a teacher of two classical dance forms – Bharathanatyam and Kathak and he has promoted the Indian art form in and out of India very successfully.
Prasanna established Soorya Performing Arts in 2002 in St. Louis, MO to promote Indian classical dance, music and theater to a greater Midwest audience of United States of America. He headed many great projects co-sponsored by the prestigious Regional Arts Council of St. Louis and Missouri Arts Council. He created some unique productions such as – “Gokula Nirgamana” – a first Indian Opera ever performed outside India. In this production, dancers sang and danced simultaneously, which is a rare achievement in the field of Bharathanatyam. He collaborated with Pandit Vishwamohan Bhat to compose his innovative – “Rainbow-II” – a dance production based on famous English and American Poems. He was invited to International Tap festivals held in Oklahoma and St. Louis and performed in Asian Festivals in Columbus, Ohio.
Prasanna was invited to present “Anubhava Mantapa” – a production based on Sharana literature in North American Veerashaiva
Sammelana and in North American Indian Classical Dance Festival which was held in University of Texas in San Antonio by Arathi School. His recent trend of Geya Nrithya attracted many patrons in Natya festival in Baltimore, MD. He also adopted Kuvempu’s Beral Ge Koral into dance format, which was performed in more than 25 cities across USA. He taught Indian Classical dances to many professional American dancers in Webster University and in Stephens College.
Apart from a devoted performer, Prasanna Kasthuri is also interested in organizing many events. Under his leadership, St. Louis witnessed the very first Indian Drama Festival – “Nataka 2007” and the very first Indian Classical Dance Festival - “St. Louis Indian Dance Festival” in 2008. His past achievements such as 24-hour non-stop performance (1986), a rank in Vidwat (1985), and a Masters Degree in Information technology always shine high in his resume. Apart from these he has trained hundreds of students in India, Europe and in USA. More than 15 students performed arangetrams under his tutelage.
Prasanna owes his learning to the blessings of his Gurus Smt. Maya Rao (Kathak), Smt. Lalitha Srinivasan, Smt. Narmada (Bharathanatyam). Along with these teachers, he also took many workshops with noted personalities such as Birju Maharaj, Mahalingam Pillai, Adyar Lakshmanan, Chitra Visweswaran, Pandanallur Gopalakrishna and others. Prasanna is also a good singer and a music composer. His recent passion is playing Mrudangam, which he adores and respects.
Prasanna's major dance productions include:
- "Kadu Kuniyithu" (1987) -Dance production for children on the story of animals
- "Kavya Kinkini" (1989) - A Bharathanatyam repertoire based on poetry from Kannada epics
- "Subhadra Parinaya" (1991) - A Sanskrit dance drama from Mahabharatha
- "Shrungara Naayakaru" (1994) - A Portrayal of Romantic heroes corresponding to the Nayikas of Indian dance.
- "Rasa Gati" (1996) - Adoption of Rasa theory and Carnatic tala structures
"Jnana" (1998) - Mini dance drama based on moral stories
- "Avataara" (1999) - Metaphysical interpretation of incarnations
- "Cherishnu" (2000) - A dance spectacle of Bengali literature
- "Silambu"(2002) - Dance drama based on 2nd century Tamil epic Silappadikaram
- "Anubhava Mantapa"(2002) - Dance reflection of 12th century Sharana literature
- "Maarga" (2002) - A Bharathanatyam dance repertoire
- "Thoughts"(2002) - A thought provoking dance presentation based different works of philosophers of India
- Rainbow - I (2004) - English poems into Indian Solo dancing
- Katha Kahe Kathaka (2004) - Presentation of Kathak dances
- Rhythms in Motion (2005) – Rhythms across the life
- Shaam - e - Kathak (2006) – Dances on Ghazals - love-lorn songs
- Rainbow - II (2006) – English poems into Indian Dancing with a Grammy award winning musician
- Works of Amir Khusro and Sri Aurobindo (2006)
- Call of Flute (2007) – USA’s first Indian opera through classical music and dance of India
- Nal Damayanti (2007) – Story of Nal and Damayanti
- Dokka Seethamma & Heerkani (2008) – Two stories of Great Indian women
- Tiger & Merchant (2009) – A children short dance drama
- Bahulya (2009) - Multiligual, Multi Culture Bharathanatyam Performance Zero (2010) - a dance presentation on Mathematician Aryabhatta Mruchchakatika (2012) - a second century production with a cast of 40 artists
Seema KasthuriSeema Kasthuri is an accomplished singer with a charming voice. She has undergone Carnatic Music training for over 10 years under Vidwan K.R Venkatesh. She has completed her Senior level board exams in Karnataka. Seema has accompanied Guru. Venkatesh in several concerts held in many places of state of Karnataka. Seema has taken active participation in most of the music productions from Sharada Vidyalaya under guru Venkatesh that was produced for All India Radio. She has also given concerts in Devotional Music and light music. Later, she is pursued her education studentship with Chintalapalli Krishnamurthy.
Seema is an active dancer by herself; she performs with the productions of Soorya Dance Company. Seema has provided vocal support to classical dance drama productions. She composed music for "OM Ganesha" - a classical dance drama on lord Ganeshji's story. Seema's album "Sri Lola" - a collection of Daasa literature songs is released in India in November 2002.
At present, Seema is taking advanced training in Carnatic music from Nagamani Srinath and Hindustani Music from Ustad Imrat Khan.
Seema performs frequently. Her performances in Hindu Temple of St. Louis, Indian Association of Greater Springfield in 2005; in ANANYA - Bangalore in 2006 gave her high accolades.
Seema accompanied many of arangetram functions of Soorya Performing Arts in 2006, 2007. Her recent role as RADHA in - "CALL OF THE FLUTE" - the first ever dance musical of USA got the attention of classical music and classical dance lovers evenly.
Seema recently launched a new music cd - "Nireeksha" and her new website - http://www.seemakasthuri.com
Guru Pulikeshi Kasthuri
As a Dancer:
Pulikeshi had his initial training under Smt.Lalitha Srinivsan, later from Smt Narmada and rigorous training in all aspects of dance from his brother Prasanna Kasthuri. A recipient of the govt. of India scholarship, he has also been trained under Smt Ranjani Ganesan, an alumni of Kalakshetra. He holds a Masters degree in dance from the Bangalore University. He has undergone training in martial arts of Manipur from Sri Sonar Chand and Sri Khilton Nongmaiten, Kalaripayattu from Sri Anil Kumar, Kerala, Abhinaya from T K Mahalingam Pillai and Kathak from Smt.Maya Rao.
As a Nattuvangist: Gifted with a magical voice, Pulikeshi with his stronghold on Laya (Rhythm) and his perfect pronunciation has been acclaimed as the best Nattuvangist of Bangalore and has been invited by all popular dancers of South India to accompany them on dance performances. Pulikeshi has undergone training in nattuvangam from his brother Prasanna Kasthuri and later learnt the intricacies from B R Sheshadri (Kanna), a well known mrudangist. Some of the artists with whom he has worked are Vani Ganapathy, Pratibha Prahlad, Shridhars, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Indira Kadambi, Ranjani Ganesan, Vivek Kinra (New Zealand), Malani KrishnaMurthy (California, USA), Lakshmi GopalaSwamy, Poornima Ashok and many more. His workshops in nattuvangam have been popular and the number of students attending his workshop is growing every season. He has conducted 5 workshops in
Bangalore, San Antonio and St.Louis. Pulikeshi has conducted nattuvangam to arangetrams in Nashik & Bangalore, which is a unique and honourable invitation from teachers to conduct nattuvangam for their disciples.
As a Choreographer: Pulikeshi holds a choreography degree from the Natya Institute of Kathak and choreography, Bangalore University under the tutelage of Guru Maya Rao. He has choreographed ballets like Bakasura Vadha, Kirataarjuniya, Raghava Vyayoga, Matadaana, and Usha Parinaya and has assisted his brother in choreographic works like Subhadra Parinaya, Maheswari Vamshothpathi, Bali Moksha and Ashta Nayakaru.
International tours: As a member of "Tribhang", he visited England, France and Switzerland. Along with Maya Rao he visited the Middle East. As a Nattuvangist he has traveled Djibouti, Ethiopia, Russia, Europe and USA.
Dance festivals: He has participated in dance festivals like the Soorya dance festival, Soorya festival, Nitya Nruthya, National Jamboree 93, Natyotsava-96, EFCEP 98, Swarna Bharathi 98, Kanagal Festival, Golden Celebrations of Keshava Nruthya Shala Bangalore, Mysore Dasara celebrations, Sangeeth Nataka Academy festival in Bangalore 2002, Eka Aneka, etc.
As a dance teacher: Pulikeshi teaches dance at Kenshri International School and at Shanthala Arts academy, Bangalore. He also conducts classes in nattuvangam to deserving students.
Awards and Felicitations: Pulikeshi has been awarded by Aryabhata award as the best Nattuvanar of decade.
As A Dancer: Sushma had her initial training under Guru Prasanna Kasthuri and later under Ranjani Ganesan, an alumni of Kalakshetra. She received her advanced training from Guru Dhananjayans at Bhaskara, a gurukula run by the renowned dancer couple in Kerala. To enhance her dance skills, she undertook training in martial arts of Manipur from Sri Khilton Nongmaiten, Kalaripayattu from Sri Anil Kumar, Kerala, Abhinaya from T K Mahalingam Pillai and Kathak from Maya Rao. She practiced music from the late Guru Sri Ambhi Bhagavatar, the tutor of the legendary Papa Choodamani.
As A Nattuvangist: Sushma learnt nattuvangam from Guru Pulikeshi Kasthuri and went on to accompany popular dancers like Vani Ganapathy, Ranjani Ganesan, Prasanna Kasthuri and all the performances of Shanthala Arts Academy on nattuvangam.
As A choreographer: Sushma's talents as a choreographer have come to the foreground with her choreographic works like "Apoorva Sadashiva" a dance presentation of the compositions of Mysore Sadashivaraya, who
lived in the 19th century in the court of Krishnadevaraja Wodeyar in Mysore. Her other presentations are Dashavataara, Navagraha, Yathiraaja Vaibhava, Mira and Gajendra Moksha. Sushma choreographed several ballets for the ISKCON temple Bangalore, IISc (Indian Institute of Science) Bangalore and was invited by the TTD (Tirupathi) to perform for their Brahmotsavam celebrations 2002.
As A Teacher: Sushma has trained students for more than 6 years at Shanthala Arts Academy Bangalore. Her students have received scholarships by the state and central govt. and have won prizes in various state level competitions. Three of her students have performed arangetram (formal dance debut) which have been acclaimed both by the press and public. All of her students who have attended the dance exam conducted by the Karnataka Secondary Education board have attained distinctions and ranks.
Dance festivals: She along with her Gurus and students has participated in dance festivals like the EFCEP 98, Kanagal Festival, Golden Celebrations of Keshava Nruthya Shala Bangalore, Karnataka Sangeetha Nruthya academy festival (Kaivaara), Ankura 96, Mysore Dasara celebrations, EFCEP, Shanthala festival, etc.
Awards and prizes: Sushma won a prize for her home state when she represented Karnataka in the 4th National Yuva festival held at Chennai.
As a writer: Sushma writes several articles as a freelance journalist for the Chennai based dance and music based website www.kutcherbuzz.com and for magazines like "Bangalore trends".
More details on Sushma can be found on her website - http://www.sushmamohan.com/