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 Late 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.

A paragon of excellence, Sanchita is known for her exquisite dance interpretations of literary pieces from all cultures, bringing them to life on stage. She is recognized as India’s dancing Queen for translating ancient texts through dance. Sanchita has curated, scripted, directed and choreographed many critically acclaimed dance presentations.

In a short time span, Sanchita has developed a repertoire of 200 performances through international and national collaborations with artists in both dance and music. Her performances and productions multidisciplinary and cross-art form approach is considered of the highest artistic quality and her creative interpretations are of exceptional standard. Utilising a culturally diverse framework, Sanchita’s ability to engage and create an inclusive atmosphere is highly regarded by many arts critics.

Recently in February 2020, Sanchita choreographed and performed in a classic Punjabi Sufi folk song released under the banner of Pehchan Music. This was a humble tribute to Ustad Hussain Baksh Sahab for his iconic melody “Soniye Je Tere Naal” performed by @paras_musica and directed by Sambhav Sharma. The video was much appreciated and reached 50K views within a few days.

Sanchita has also 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

DURING COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Nayan Tarse a short collaborative piece amongst Australia based Indian artists  premiered in “International Lalit Arpan Festival 2021 – Of Expressions of Dance”. This festival was a gesture to share some positivity in the ongoing Covid crisis in India. This festival was also dedicated to the memory of Late Pt Rajan Mishra ji and late Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan and all the artists and persons who have lost their lives to Covid-19, April 2021.
  • Presented “Rasa Lila”, “Dance of Divine Love” in the Holi Festival organised by NRISA at Yarra-me Djila Theatrette, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, March 2021.
  • Performed for India’s national academy of music, dance and drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi’s, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat Festival”. Sanchita represented the state of Jammu and Kashmir at this platform. The piece designed by Sanchita was a multidisciplinary and multilingual performance in collaboration with artists from India and Australia, February 2021.
  • On the occasion of Republic Day 2021, Sanchita in collaboration with Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust premiered her virtual performance “Vande Matram” and Pryutsu – The Yodha paying a glowing tribute to the Nation’s Brave.
  • On the Occasion of India’s Republic Day 2021, presented “I am Immortal”, a virtual tribute to our Nation’s Brave, on a poetry beautifully recited by Ayushman Jamwal, and performed by Sanchita Abrol.
  • Performed at the virtual Diwali celebrations by RMIT University – connecting people from Melbourne to Mumbai, November 2020.
  • Performed “Freedom – the ability to choose” a tribute to the country’s brave heart soldiers, as part of the online Freedom Concert on India’s Independence Day 2020 organised by Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust.
  • In collaboration with International Student Support Group, Sanchita premiered a video with positive message for the international students and Indian community in Australia, Aug, 2020 who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This video received widespread coverage and appreciation from the community. 
  • Sanchita Abrol along with her two disciples performed at Times of India Chennai, Nrithya Sangamam, an online dance series to remove COVID-19 blues, June 2020.
  • Inspired by mother nature, in the dance film The Pearl, Sanchita  brought an understanding of how she felt during COVID-19 through a brief embodied response. Using the language of Kathak, the short dance film illustrates how nature and its revival abilities can inspire us even in these unprecedented times to remain positive. Sanchita expressed her emotions Kinesthetically, representing the time and beautiful space, capturing her movement in time. This collaborative experiment was based on the Sound Design by Matt Cornell and was Directed by Lokkesh Sivagnanam. This dance film was done as a part of dance series BOXED June, 2020, Dance Deletes Distancing by Dr. Anita Ratnam’s curation, this series of commissioned dance sequences, featured dancers across the globe.
  • Participated in the Shovana Narayan – Asavari Institute for Kathak’s effort to celebrate Mother’s Day 2020 with an online performance as a tribute to all mothers, May 2020.
  • Performed in the Digital Quarantine Series of Jammu and Kashmir Academy Of Art, Culture and Languages, India to kindle some positivity in COVID-19 times, while spreading awareness about the artists and arts of the beautiful state, April 2020.
  • Believing in rebooting creativity through digital platforms and determined to present contemporary issues through dance, Sanchita presented an impromptu Kathak interpretation of a beautiful poetry by Manmeet Singh Taneja, Nature’s Reminder, which presented the issues of migrant population struggling in COVID-19 in India and their yearning hope, April 2020.

Pre COVID-19 Pandemic

Sanchita has performed on the international stage, most notably:

  • Performed at Jashn-e-Hind, Grand Indian classical festival – celebrating the Indian Ethos at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, India 2020
  • Dogra Food cum Cultural Festival, Press Club of India, Delhi, 2020
  • Kathanak – The Storyteller organised by Richa Nritya and Kala Society at India International Centre, Delhi, India, 2019
  • Performed at Yayavar – Jammu Literary Festival at the Central University Jammu, India, 2019
  • Melbourne Multicultural Mela organised by Sahara Victorian Association at Preston Town Hall, Victoria, Australia, 2019
  • Performed “Suksham Ramayan” at RMIT Diwali Festival 2019
  • Shakti 2019 by Raaga Sudha – an evening of Indian classical music and dance in aid of Mental Health Foundation, Kel Watson Theatre, Victoria, Australia 2019
  • Kathaprana Dance Academy students performed at the Navratri Festival organised by Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple, Victoria, Australia, 2019
  • Organised in collaboration with Consulate General of India, Melbourne and ICCR, “Colours of Kathak an evening celebrating Kathak” with performance by the group of acclaimed artist Pt. Krishan Mohan Maharaj at Village show Theatrette, State Library Victoria, Australia, 2019
  • 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. Music and Dances of India Incursion – Dance Movement Therapy session in collaboration with Anjali Sengupta, Founder and Director, Embracing Spirit at The Grange P-12 College, Deloraine Drive, Hoppers Crossing, Victtoria, 23 April, 2021.

2. Careers Connect Talk Show – Creative Dancing and Dance Movement Therapy     a virtual conversation with Rajiv Soni, from DPS (Delhi Public School) Alumni Society to expose students to the field of Creative Dancing and Dance Movement Therapy, 23 February, 2021.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

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

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

8. 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

ARTS IN HEALTH 

Sanchita is a strong advocate for mental health and continues to work in this area. She is passionate for arts in health and currently pursues Master’s in Creative Arts Therapy at The University of Melbourne.

SOCIAL CAUSES

Sanchita has a strong passion and commitment to helping women and children. She is currently working as a Policy Specialist for Modern Slavery Initiative, Australia. Prior to this Sanchita was working as a Program Director for the Impact Evaluation Team at Community Based Health Project Australia, which advocates for better health globally. She has also 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.