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Innovator Navtej Singh Johar appears in Johns Creek

By Suzanne Sen
January 2013
Innovator Navtej Singh Johar appears in Johns Creek

 

With a unique style of bharatnatyam that easily traverses from the traditional to the avant-garde, Johar is a celebrated performer.

 

Schools of Indian dance happily abound in the United States, filled with intrinsic lessons on Indian culture and values as well as dance. Many go further by incorporating the American ideal of fundraising for charity, giving towards health and education projects both here and in India.

The Kalaivani Dance and Music Academy in Johns Creek, Georgia recently brought to the community’s attention an individual who has taken all of these endeavors to higher levels. The dancer Navtej Singh Johar visited, giving a solo Bharatanatyam recital (a kriti on goddess Minakshi) on December 8, 2012, master classes on the 8th and 9th, and a yoga workshop on the 10th. All were presented perfectly and powerfully, touching the hearts of those lucky enough to attend.

Moreover, attendees were given a chance to meet someone whose passions for dance and yoga have led to depths and breadths of meaning, innovation, and action—for people, the environment, and even India’s poor stray animals.

Coming from the institute of Kalakshetra (meaning the holy place of arts), where students are taught “to be a good human being first, a good artist next, and then, finally, a good dancer,” as one of its teachers has said, Navtej Singh Johar went on to found the Abhyas Trust in 2004. Its three main fields are
1) Yoga, with Vedic chanting as an extension of pranayama;
2) Dance, including experimentation with traditional and contemporary dance, and physical theater; and
3) Urban design, to sensitize children and young adults to their immediate environment, including special work for stray animals.
A resource center facilitates community projects by multiple types of artists in these areas.  All these activities are inspired by the philosophy of yoga with its focus on the body-mind connection, leading Johar on a path of “proactive and responsible interaction with society and the environment.” Truly inspiring.

Website Bonus Feature

Links:
About Kalakshetra
"The bharatanatyam institute in Chennai completes 75 years"
http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/dance/features/kalakshetra

About Navtej Singh Johar
http://abhyastrust.org/aboutnavtejjohar.htm

Interviews with Navtej Singh Johar: "I plod my own path"
http://www.narthaki.com/info/intervw/intrv109l.html
http://abhyastrust.org/Narthaki%20InterviewforNatyaKalaConference2008.html

article by Navtej Singh Johar
"Play of Prakriti and Purusha Experienced Through Dance"
http://abhyastrust.org/dance-article2.htm

About the Abhyas Trust
http://abhyastrust.org/goals-missions.htm
The Power of Seeing Project, an urban design initiative
First of all to make the child (an adult within the next ten years) become more aware, more observant, more mindful, more respectful, and most importantly more connected with the environment. We have seen that the children strike a very strong identification with their chosen element and then perforce get concerned, curious, and connected to a larger network of interdependent relationships of things, amenities, services, and real people within the urban grid. And this alone fulfills our primary aim.
The reporting and lobbying prove to be bonus add-ons. The whole exercise of seeing, documenting, organizing, sharing, and reporting leading to lobbying, converts children-citizens to become "seeing and concerned citizens." The message that gets circulated is that we care, we see, we register, we know and expect better, thus we expect change! And conversely the message that reaches the authorities is that "the people are seeing, they are looking!" and that is enough!

Caring for stray animals in India
http://abhyastrust.org/careanimals.htm

 


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