Rachna

Performer, choreographer, educator, and published author Rachna Ramya Agrawal has studied the Lucknow style of Kathak under Smt. Maya Rao and the Jaipur style of Kathak under Guru Rajendra Gangani, who are both the recipients of the Sangeet Natak Academy award. She has undergone further training in the expressive and interpretative aspects of Kathak with Smt. Sandhya Desai, a Kathak virtuoso. Rachna received a Master's degree in dance from the prestigious Pracheen Kala Kendra in India. She also  trained in Choreography at the Natya Institute of Choreography in New Delhi, India. In addition to her degrees in dance, Rachna holds an MBA from the University of Hartford, a Master's degree in Hindi Literature from Delhi University and a Senior diploma in Classical Indian Vocal Music from Prayag Sangeet Samiti.  Rachna also has studied Tabla with Pt. Subhankar Banerjee.

The State of Connecticut Commission on the Arts selected Rachna as a Master Teaching Artist in 1993 and she is currently listed in their Master Teaching Artist roster. She was also a recipient of 1994-1995 apprenticeship award given by the New England Foundation for the Arts and worked as a Master Artist for the organization. Presently Rachna is working for the Young Audiences of Connecticut, an honored arts-in-education organization, and is listed on the YAC Artist roster. Rachna has won many awards in dance, including a gold medal from Prayag Sangeet Samiti, in recognition of her Kathak skill.

Rachna has performed extensively and has been featured many times on Indian national television.  Her performances and workshops include the World Music Institute, NY; Museum of Natural History, NY; Harvard University, MA; University of Oklahoma, University of Massachusetts; The Institute for studies in American Music, NY; Augusta Savage Gallery, MA; Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, University of Connecticut, University of Hartford, CT; Southern Connecticut State University, Citylore, NY; Polyhedron, Chicago and various other colleges, museums, dance organizations. Rachna has also performed in prestigious dance festivals such as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, CT; Five by Five Dance Festival, CT; White Mountain Summer Dance Festival, MA; Along the Gypsy Trail, a multi-cultural Dance Festival, Chicago; Engendered Dance Festival, NY; Nomadic Summer Spirit (world music and dance gathering), CT;  Ted Hershey Dance and Music Marathon, CT; World on Stage Dance Festival, CT;  Province Town Dance Festival, MA and many other dance festivals.


Rachna is currently running the Sumbhaav School of Kathak Dance at five locations in Connecticut. She is the Artistic Director of the Sumbhaav Dance Project. Rachna is also on teaching faculty at Trinity College in Hartford.

 

In addition to her Kathak teaching and performing endeavors, Rachna also coordinates the Ted Hershey Dance and Music Marathon, a week-long dance, music, and dance-film events in CT at various prestigious venues, where more than 30 of the finest dance companies, representing the State’s extraordinary range of dance and music styles come together. She also provided Creative Support for a feature length documentary film “RAGA UNVEILED”, which is an comprehensive look at the “architectural brilliance” of a musical system that gave birth to the most wonderful and profound classical music art form of India. Furthermore, Rachna published a novel written in Hindi, titled “Digbhramit.”


In addition to performing traditional and contemporary Kathak, Rachna also has been involved in creating and performing the following productions and choreographed pieces.

WORKS

Siddhartha: Interpreting Herman Hesse - In collaboration with the Bharat Natyam dancer Anu R Sharma. Based on Herman Hesse’s poetic-novella “Sidhdhartha.”

Awakening – In collaboration with Anu R. Sharma.  Dance pieces based on human rights issues, such as war and its aftermath, child trafficking, sexual assault, and racially motivated hate crimes.

And the Verse Falls to the Soul – Based on Pablo Neruda’s poetry by the same title.

Panchtattwa - In collaboration with Kathak dancer Neelima Beri.  An exploration of the five elements – space, air, fire, water, and earth- in our external environment as well as in the depths of the human psyche.  Whatever is present in this universe is also present in our internal environment. Each one of us is not only a part of the universe, but we are miniature universes in ourselves. 

To Gather, Together -  In collaboration with the Modern dancers Lorelei Chang and Tony Olivares.  Three individuals with different cultural backgrounds come together. At first, they experience cultural tension, and eventually find a common ground to connect upon.

Dreaming Rumi -  Abstract choreography  in Contemporary Kathak style, based on Rumi’s poems. 

Khoj – Choreographed in Contemporary Kathak style. The choreography depicts the journey from external anarchy to the tranquility of within.

Secrets: hometown hits – A production of the Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble.  The piece was conceived by Judy Dworin and was developed in collaboration with New York City performance artist Michael Burke and Rachna Ramya.  The theme is what it means to reveal one’s true identity to a hometown community stuck in the mire of prejudice and stereotyping.

Suite Movements – Collaborated with distinguished cellist Harry Clark.  The program was produced by Charter Oak Dance Coalition.  Choreographed a piece to interpret a movement from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites.

 

 

REVIEWS

“Rachna mesmerized the audience with her twinkling footwork and graceful style.  Although the seating provided sightlines, the audience was compelled to stand and move positions to be able to see her performance even more clearly, such was the beauty of her dancing.” – Weekly Spotlight, Chicago

“Rachna Ramya Agrawal is utterly entrancing as she colorfully dances and swirls barefoot in front of us, complete with intricate hand gestures and jingling of tiny bells encircling her ankles.”  -  The Resident, Connecticut

“When the Tarana was performed by Rachna Ramya, the audience was swept off its feet.” – The Statesman, Delhi

“Rachna’s dancing to the verses of Khusro and the renderings of poems were beautifully captured.” – Indian Express, Delhi

“Rachna Ramya gave a moving and sensitive portrayal in Krishna Leela.” –Hindustan Times

“A song from the Gita Govindam, the Ashtapadi “Lalitha Lavanga” was next depicted with commendable mime by Rachna to bring home the substance and sentiment of the theme.” – Indian Express, Bangalore.

“Rachna Ramya’s dancing sparkled as she achieved a rapport with the audience.” –Samarkshetra, Delhi