Savitha Sastry

The 3rd Annual Gait to the Spirit Dance Festival celebrates the classical dance of India. This year’s festival will take place from October 26 to 29 at Vancouver’s Scotiabank Dance Centre.  

For the 3rd edition, Mandala Arts and Culture will present three styles of Indian Classical dance: odissi, kathak, and bharata natyam. Shalini Patnaik (US), Aakash Odedra (UK), Savitha Sastry (US/India), and Malavika Santhosh (Canada) will be the featured artists. Friday night’s opening performance will be a double bill with two amazingly talented odissi and kathak dancers.

The festival will offer a two day bharata natyam workshop by guest artist Savitha Sastry as well as a lecture demo by kathak dancer Aakash Odedra. Aakash will speak on the nature and influences of his more contemporary work.

Shalini Patnaik
[Shalini Patnaik]

Although still very young, Shalini Patnaik has performed Odissi in the US, UK, and India. She was selected by pop superstar Madonna to choreograph and perform for a televised performance at the 1998 MTV Music Awards as well as choreographing singer Ricky Martin’s 2006 tour. She has performed for luminaries Pandit Ravi Shankar (90th anniversary party) and George Harrison.
Aakash Odedra is a UK rising star of South Asian dance. Widely known as an accomplished kathak dancer, Aakash has also trained in bharata natyam, indo jazz, and contemporary dance forms. Most recently, he presented a solo evening of contemporary choreography by Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Russel Maliphant called “Rising“.
The headlining featured artist for this year’s festival is Bharata Natyam dancer Savitha Sastry. Savitha has performed in Australia, India, Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia and the US. This is her premiere Canadian performance. Savitha’s dance has been featured in the 2011 BBC documentary “Sex, Death and the Gods“, a film about the history of dancers in South India.
Mandala Arts and Culture is a Vancouver based company dedicated to producing, developing, and presenting the classical dance forms of India while supporting the artistic vision of director Jai Govinda. Mandala also aims to create a legacy of excellence for bharata natyam by training students through the Jai Govinda Dance Academy, giving them a platform in which to perform and perhaps train other students in turn.

As part of the festival, Mandala likes to integrate some of the new generation of Indian classical dancers into the program. This year they will present young Bharata Natyam dancer Malavika Santhosh, a Jai Govinda Dance Academy graduate. She will present a new dance repertoire choreographed by Jai Govinda specially created for the 2012 festival.


Friday October 26, 8 pm
Shalini Patnaik and Aakash Odedra (odissi and kathak)
Saturday October 27, 8 pm
Savitha Sastry (bharata natyam)
Sunday October 28, 1:30 pm (pay what you can)
Malavika Santhosh (bharata natyam)

Lecture and Workshop

October 27, 1:30 pm
Free Lecture with Aakash Odedra
October 28 and 29, 6 to 9 pm
Workshop with Savitha Sastry

3rd Annual Gait to the Spirit Dance Festival

Dates: October 26 to 29
Venue: Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street, Vancouver
Tickets: In advance at Banyan Books, 3608 West 4th Avenue
For more information about the festival as well as to register for master dance classes, phone 604.874.8985. This festival is supported in partnership The Dance Centre as well with the generous support of The City of Vancouver, the BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, Canadian Heritage, The Dance Centre and Georgia Straight.

Images courtesy of Mandala Arts and Culture.

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