SANCHITA ABROL

Kathak Dancer and Choreographer
Public Policy Consultant
Art and Culture Columnist

Founder and artistic director of Kathaprana Dance Academy Melbourne, Sanchita Abrol is a cultural entrepreneur and a thought leader.

Sanchita grew up in India and began Kathak dance at 5 years of age. A disciple of India’s most celebrated Kathak Guru and Maestro of the present age Padma Shri Guru Shovana Narayan, she is an active part of her Guru’s Asavari Institute repertoire. Her training in her early years was with Guru Teerath Ajmani and Guru Ved Vyas.

Sanchita quickly gained prominence, winning dance contests at District and State level and receiving nominations to perform at prestigious events such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Asia Sammelan.

As her eminence grew, she was invited to perform on the international stage, including the 2010 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony at Delhi, India and as part of the Indian Youth Delegation Program to China in 2011. Since then, the international stage has been her second home.

In more recent times, Sanchita has carried out world first research in Dogri language and Indian classical dance interpretations. Sanchita was the first person to present Dogri literature with Kathak on stage. Titled “Utarbehni: Mystic River, Mystic Poetess”, this solo production was based on the poetry by the mother of Dogri language Padma Shri Padma Sachdev. This production pertains to river Devika one of the most sacred rivers in Indian scriptures and its analogy to female liberation. For this production, Sanchita extensively researched and included a documentary on Duggar culture and the history and auspiciousness of the river.

Following this, Sanchita pioneered two other productions exploring the Dogri and Kathak connection:

Ghar, Prem ki Gaagar – The heart always finds its home in love: Based on the classical Dogri poetry “Ghar” by renowned poet, writer and Sahitya Akademi Awardee Late Group Captain Randhir Singh. Blending Dogri and English literature for the first time on the international stage, this production recapitulates “Love’s Philosophy” a poem by one of the major English romantic poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley, written in 1820.

Pryutsu (The Yoddha) – Adorning with Pride, An ode to our Warriors: This production is a homage to the brave soldiers of India (unsung heroes) and to commemorate 75 years of the Quit India Movement where India pledged “Sankalp Se Siddhi”, to create a new India that is strong, prosperous and all-encompassing. This performance is based on the classical Dogri poetry by renowned poet Late Group Captain Randhir Singh or popularly known as ‘Kunwar Viyogi’, the only Indian Air Force officer to be conferred the Sahitya Akademi award combined with the time-honoured poetry by Padma Bhushan awardee and freedom fighter, Mahadevi Verma. Accompanying these distinguished poets is the author of the book ‘Chameleon lights’, Ayushman Jamwal and his poem ‘The Valley Roars’. Given the diversity in authors this was the first ever amalgamation of Dogri, English and Hindi literature.

Sanchita is also the first person to direct and choreograph the first of its kind Kathak dance video on 2 single ghazals in Dogri language: ‘Aayi Khushboo’ and ‘Rasam Riwaz’.

Her ground-breaking work in the area of Dogri literature has been honoured with the ‘Prem Jamwal Art Innovation Award’. She has had the privilege of working with many eminent poets like Padma Shri Padma Sachdeva (India), Padma Shri Dr. Shyam Singh Shashi (India), Farhat Shahzad (Pakistan). Her work with Farhat Shazad involved featuring in the globally released album ‘Dekho Toh’.

Sanchita holds a Bhaskar degree in Kathak, from Pracheen Kala Kendra Chandigarh, India and has been awarded Meritorious Dancer of the prestigious Lady Sri Ram College for excellence in Indian classical dance.

Sanchita has also been an Emcee and radio jockey at the All India Radio Rohtak Station.

MAJOR PERORMANCES

Sanchita has performed on the international stage, most notably:

  • Federation of Indian Music and Dance Victoria, Australia 2019
  • Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, Australia 2019, in presence of the Consul General of India in Melbourne Mr. Raj Kumar, Richard Wynne MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Indian Film Director Karan Johar
  • SwaRaRaga Indian Classical Dance Festival Melbourne, Australia 2019
  • World Dance Day Celebrations with Global Arts Foundation Victoria, Australia 2019
  • Indian Summer Festival, at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia 2018
  • Celebrating Tale of Unsung Heroes at Sapt Shakti Auditorium, Jaipur Military  Cantt, India 2018, in presence of the Major General Anuj Mathur, Regional Vice President of Army Wives Welfare Association, Urvashi Kumari Singh and Lt. Vijay Singh, Chief of Staff, South Western Command
  • An ode to Nation’s Warriors – Pryutsu at Zorawar Theatre Manekshow Centre, Delhi, India 2018, in presence of The Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army, General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat and Major General GD Bakshi
  • Innovation in Art by Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust, Tagore Hall Chandigarh, India 2018, in presence of General Ved Prakash Malik, Former Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army
  • Celebrating Tale of Unsung Heroes at Chinar Auditorium, Jammu and Kashmir Military Cantt, India 2018
  • Gandhi Community Day, at Immigration Museum, Melbourne, Australia 2018, in presence of Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and Former Member of Parliament in South Africa
  • Lalit Arpan Festival, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India 2017
  • Cultural Cocktail by KVM Trust at Showshaa Hall Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon, India 2017
  • Buddha Jayanti, New Delhi, India 2017,  in presence of esteemed Parliamentarians of India
  • Ganges-Danube Cultural Festival of India in Hungary 2016
  • ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) Festival of India in Italy 2016
  • ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) Festival of India in Morocco 2016
  • FIAV (Federation of Indian Association Victoria) in presence of Premier of Victoria and Federal and State Parliamentarians, Australia 2015 and 2018
  • Hindi Niketan, Australia 2015 and 2018
  • The University of Melbourne Cultural Festival, Australia 2015
  • CBHP (Community Based Health Project) India in Australia 2015
  • Festival of Nations, the University of Melbourne, Australia 2014
  • Celebrate India Diwali Festival, Melbourne, Australia 2014
  • ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) XXI International Student Cultural Festival, New Delhi, India 2013
  • Performed in Jahanara a dance ballet by Padma Shri Guru Shovana Narayan in Kamani Auditorium New Delhi, 2013, in presence of then Vice President of India Mohd. Hamid Ansari with his wife Smt. Salma Ansari and the Former Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah
  • Performed in Parliament House India 2012, in presence of esteemed Parliamentarians of India including then Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari
  • Performed in ‘Kadambari: The poet’s muse’,a dance ballet by Padma  Shri Guru Shovana Narayan in  New Delhi, 2012, in presence of Gursharan Kaur, the wife of Former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, Member of Parliament Kumari Selja and Pavan K Verma and Former Governor of Manipur Nazma Heptulla
  • Indian Youth Delegation Program to China 2011, in presence of esteemed Parliamentarians of China
  • Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, at the  at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium New Delhi 2010 in presence of all the dignitaries at the occasion including Charles, Prince of Wales, representing Quenn Elizabeth II, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Pratibha Patil – Former President of India, Manmohan Singh – Former Prime Minister of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – Former President of India.

Sanchita has also performed at various prestigious festivals in India, including:

  • Indian Classical Dance Festival 2017, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages
  • Kunwar Viyogi Utsav, Abhinav Theatre Jammu 2017 and 2018
  • Ganga Mahotsava, Benaras (Varanasi)
  • Geeta Jayanti Festival, Kurukshetra
  • Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav Pune Festival
  • Patiala Heritage Festival
  • Ranakpur Surya Festival
  • Tirupati Festival
  • Ravindranath Tagore Jayanti, Kolkatta
  • Rajiv Kumbh Mela, Raipur
  • Bihar Mahotsav, Patna
  • Kala Godha Festival, Mumbai
  • Taj Festival, Agra
  • Hampi Heritage Festival, Karnataka

MAJOR WORKSHOPS, LECTURE DEMONSTRATIONS AND SEMINAR

1. Dastan-e -Kathak- The journey of Kathak dance during the olden times and how it has enjoyed the special status in recent past, in the courts of Wajid Ali Shah
Lecture Demonstration at UN Women Association (UNWA), General Meeting in UNDP Office, Delhi, 31 August, 2017

2. Understanding Sangeet Ratnakar Through The Prism of Kathak
Assisted Padma Shri Guru Shovana Narayan at the seminar at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan Delhi, 27-28 April, 2017

3. Abhinaya and Kathak Dance
Assisted Padma Shri Guru Shovana Narayan at the Workshop in Riga, Lithuania, 22 June, 2016

4. Dance through the ages, modernity in Indian classical dance
Lecture Demonstration at Melbourne University, 4 September 2015

5. Katha and Kathak, storytelling in Kathak
Lecture Demonstration at Melbourne University, 10 October 2014

6. Movements in Kathak and its therapeutic values
Workshop at Naz Foundation (India) Trust Delhi, 3 March, 2010

ACADEMIC

Sanchita is a multifarious individual, who in addition to her excellence in Kathak, has triumphed in academics too:

  • Master in Public Policy and Management, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Honors), Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi
  • District topper in AISSCE (All India Senior School Certificate Examination) by CBSE
  • Amul Vidya Bhushan Award recipient for scoring highest marks in Economics and Accounts in 2009
  • Represented in CBSE-Intel National Level Science Exhibition 2006
  • Represented India at 5th SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation)
  • Youth Festival 2004

SOCIAL CAUSES

Sanchita has a strong passion and commitment to helping children. She is working as a Program Director for the Impact Evaluation Team at Community Based Health Project Australia, which advocates for better health globally. Prior to this she worked as a Policy Researcher at Save the Children Australia, examining the Sustainable Development Goals and their effectiveness in Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific region.