Ushanjali Dance


Divine Conversations (2018, World Premiere)

Date and Time: Sunday, June 3, 2:00pm
Duration: 60 min, without intermission
Location: Cowell Theater

Ticket Information

Early Bird: $15
General Admission: $25

Festival Pass

If you miss our early bird offerings, take advantage of our Festival Pass and see five shows for $75.00


An interpretative, exploration of compositions by Indian Saints and Mystics against MLK's speech "Down by the Riverside"! We go on a journey of finding the Self, from the Divine to the Abstract, through Indian Classical Dance, Bharatanatyam, Live Music, Narration, Visual Art and Multimedia.

Artists Biographies

Naina Shastri: Concept, Choreography and Lead Dancer
Naina Shastri had her initial training in the Mysore Style of Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Guru Vidwan Shri K. Ramamurthy Rao. She completed her debut Solo performance and Master Level examination under his guidance. She has performed on various prestigious platforms in her home town of Mysore, Bangalore and surrounding cities and has also been the recipient of various awards and scholarships for dance. Naina Shastri, is a Post-Graduate in Biotechnology and after working in the Biotech Industry for a few years, decided to follow her passion and take up dance full time by opening her own academy, Ushanjali School of Dance in the Tri Valley Area, CA. She is also an Instructor of Bharatanatyam at the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance, Berkeley. Naina is currently a RAW resident artist at SAFEhouse for the Arts, SF and a Member of the San Ramon City Arts Advisory Council. She is the founder of “Namaha Foundation for the Arts” a nonprofit organization that promotes all genres of art. She has performed at various festivals and events throughout the Bay Area, most recently, San Francisco Movement Arts Festival, Grace Cathedral; West Wave Festival, 2017; APAture 2016, Asian Arts Museum, SF and more.

Supporting performers: Students of Ushanjali School of Dance
Ushanjali School of Dance, is a premier South Indian Dance Academy in the Tri Valley Area. Students are taught the ancient and traditional form of Mysore Style of Bharatanatyam. Artistic Director, Naina Shastri personally trains over 100 students at two locations (Pleasanton and San Ramon) in both the Theoretical and Performing aspects of this dance form. Students of Ushanjali school regularly perform at various community and city organized events and are often invited to present their dances at prestigious Festivals around the Bay. So far five students of the Academy have presented their full length Debut Solo performances (Rangapravesha) and more are scheduled to perform in the coming years.

Accompanying Musicians:

Chandrika Pai: Vocal
Chandrika Pai is an accomplished Indian Carnatic vocalist, performer and teacher. She was initiated into Carnatic vocal music by her sister Vidushi Sudha Suresh. She then began her formal training at the age of five under Sangeeta Vidhwan N. Gopalakrishna Iyer and received vocal lessons for twelve years. She later received advanced lessons from Sangeeta Kalacharya Sri. Chengleput Ranganathan. During this period, she participated in several state and national level competitions, and won several awards and prizes. Notably, she won the national level competition conducted by All India Radio (AIR) in 1997. Since then, she has been a graded artiste of AIR, Mangalore. After moving to the US in 2002, Chandrika has given numerous vocal recitals here. She lives in San Ramon, CA, where she is the founder-director of the Nada Sudha School of Music. Through her school, she provides aspiring students with a strong foundation in the theoretical and performing aspects of the complex vocal art form. The school emphasizes emotion (Bhava) and devotion (Bhakthi) in a nurturing and positive fun-filled learning atmosphere.

Balaji Mahadevan: Percussion
Balaji Mahadevan had his initial training from Shri K.S.S.Mani (Chennai) for 8 years. He continued to train from Shri Madhu Sudhanan, Chennai (disciple of Shri Karikudi Mani). Balaji has accompanied many leading artists in Chennai and in US and has also played for many audio recordings and TV shows. Balaji has been accompanying for various dance arangetrams and dance ballets. Balaji Mahadevan is a graded artist in mrudhangam and tabla from All India radio, Chennai. He is also skilled in playing Tabla, Dhol, Thavil and Khol.

Susheela Narasimhan: Violin
Mr Narasimhan learnt violin from Sri H.K. Venkatram in Shimoga for about a year and later on from Sri H.K. Narasimha Murthy for about 6-7 years in Mysore. He has played for many concerts in the bay area. He also teaches violin in the Bay area and has produced good students who are now playing for concerts in the Bay area. He has composed many Pallavis on Lord Raghavendra Swamy and runs a Melakartha Pallavi Concert Series. He has also given lecture demonstrations on California Arts Association Television on violin playing. He has a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering. He is also currently a Master Artist Mentor in Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ (ACTA) “Apprenticeship Program”.

Prasanna Rajan: Flute
Prasanna Rajan has been learning Carnatic Flute under the tutelage of flute maestro Sri Shashank Subramanyam for the past 8 years taking lessons via Skype and augmented by lessons during visits to India. He also learnt Hindustani flute from Sri. Prasad Bhandarkar. He has performed several solo flute concerts both Hindustani and Carnatic in the US and India. He has participated in various Carnatic and Hindustani music competitions and has won many awards.He has played as an accompanist to several dance arangetrams (debuts) and dance productions in the bay area. He also plays western trumpet. He is one of the founder of Laya Club in UC Berkeley and they have performed in various events in UC Berkeley.

Sukanya Chakrabarti: Script
Sukanya Chakrabarti received her doctoral degree in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. She has been involved in various performances in the Bay area and around the world – at Stanford, she performed in Democratically Speaking; acted in Seneca’s Oedipus, and directed Sam Shepard’s Killer’s Head, both staged as a part of Stanford Summer Theater Festival. She performed in several productions by EnActe Arts (The Conference of the Birds; Merchant on Venice; Noor: The Empress of the Mughals); and participated in Eugenio Barba’s workshop at the Odin Week Festival in Holstebro, Denmark. Her original, directorial and devised projects include A Bare Stage; almost…home…; and Divided Together, all produced in Stanford University. She has worked as the dramaturg for several EnActe productions, such as SoundWaves: The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan; and The Parting, which is based on lived experiences of survivors of the Partition of India in 1947. She directed a youth production of the Ramayana, co-produced by EnActe Arts, SFShakes and the City of Cupertino . Her training and specialization are in the areas of direction; dramaturgy; oral history; postcolonial and ethnic studies (with a focus on South Asian performance studies); ethnomusicology; dramatic literature; transcultural theater and performance; experimental devised performances; and community-based performance-making.

Minu Shukla: Visual Aid

VK: Keyboard

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