Raissa Simpson’s PUSH Dance Company Builds Vibrant Contemporary Dances To Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Challenges Attributed To Mixed Heritage.


In Conversation with Anupama Srivastava

PUSH Dance Company is proud to present choreography by Anupama Srivastava on September 20-22, 2019 for PUSHfest Program D at ODC Theater in San Francisco. Photo by Vijay Raghavendiran


Tell us a little bit about your dance background.
I have been trained in the North Indian Classical Kathak Dance style since I was six years old. Under the tutelage of the world renowned Kathak Maestro Padmashri Guru Shovana Narayan, I trained and performed extensively in India over a span of 15 years. After moving to the US, I continued to dance, and performed at local events. I founded InSyncKathak Dance School in 2013, and routinely perform and teach solo, duet and group Kathak choreographies. My choreographies, both original and inspired by critically acclaimed works of my Guru, and have been very well received at performances across several cities in the US and Canada.

What can audiences look forward to seeing in your work at PUSHfest
There are many different aspects of Kathak, ranging from its story-telling roots invoking ancient Vedic chants steeped in devotion, to complex rhythmic compositions and exquisite expressions, and modern choreographic elements. Our presentation at PUSHfest this year will showcase each of these facets and will introduce the audience to the vast rhythmic, expressive and spiritual experience that is Kathak! “OM SHANTI – A Prayer for Peace” is an original work portraying the yearning of peace-loving souls everywhere! Infused with ancient Vedic Shlokas, this technical Kathak dance showcases some traditional rhythmic compositions from the Lucknow Gharana Style of Kathak.

Photo by Vijay Raghavendiran

What are the major sources of inspiration for your choreography?
I would start this list with the amazing repertoire of my Guru’s work spanning almost 6 decades. Next is the richness of the soul stirring Hindustani Classical music, which forms the background score of most Kathak dances, and draws an elevated level of involvement from the choreographer, performers and audiences alike. The opportunity to tell stories through dance about the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of common people, along with my own observations and insights, is a definite incentive. Finally, the intriguing research that goes behind conceptualizing Kathak choreographies; serving a slice of history, mythology, literature, culture, social issues and human emotions; all inspire my choreographic works.

If you hadn’t chosen this career, what might you have been doing in your life?
Interesting question! In fact, I did have an alternate career as an engineer in the Silicon Valley. Dancing has always been my passion, my safe and happy place, and I have gravitated towards it at every stage of my life, along with studying, working and raising a family. I took up dancing as a full-time career only recently. I feel blessed to have been able to exercise both the right and left sides of my brain, and it has helped bring a unique balance to my life.

What advice would you pass on to an aspiring choreographer?
To me, strength of technique, the simplicity and clarity of execution and emotional involvement of the dancers speak volumes. Since each choreographer, their processes and preferences are unique, I would encourage them to identify the values most important to them and create work representing their individuality wrapped around those core values.

Learn more: http://inSyncKathak.weebly.com