World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose and San Jose Taiko

DANCE ORIGINS: India and Japan
Bharatanatyam, Taiko
Mythili Kumar (Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose) and PJ Hirabayashi (San Jose Taiko)
First Appearance in SF EDF:
Websites: and

Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose was founded in 1980 by Mythili Kumar to transmit classical South Indian bharatanatyam dance through training and presentations of the highest quality. Through multicultural collaborations, Abhinaya honors the tradition and fosters its stylistic evolution in the U.S.

San Jose Taiko, founded in 1973, is under the artistic leadership of Franco Imperial. Inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, San Jose Taiko performers express the beauty of the human spirit through the voice of taiko.


Abhinaya & SJ Taiko2012 PERFORMANCE

Rasika Kumar (Abhinaya Dance Company) and Franco Imperial (San Jose Taiko)

2012 ABHINAYA DANCERS:  Yatrika Ajaya, Anjana Dasu, Nilufer Jain, Eesha Khare, Malavika Kumar, Rasika Kumar, Rekha Nagarajan, Sindhu Natarajan, Anu Ranganathan
2012 ABHINAYA SOUTH INDIAN MUSICIANS: Mythili Kumar (nattuvangam or cymbals), Ganesh Ramanarayanan (mridangam), Sruti Sarathy (violin)
Rina Chang, Yurika Chiba, Alex Hudson,Franco imperial, Rylan Sekiguchi, Meg Suzuki, Adam Weiner

2011 ABHINAYA DANCERS: Yatrika Ajaya, Anjana Dasu, Eesha Khare, Malavika Kumar, Rasika Kumar, Sindhu Natarajan, Anu Ranganathan, Neeraja Venkat, Preeti Vissa
  Lakshmi Balasubramanian (violin), Mythili Kumar (nattuvangam or cymbals), Ashwin Kumar (flute), Ganesh Ramnarayanan (mridangam)
2011 SAN JOSE TAIKO MUSICIANS: Rina Chang, Yurika Chiba, Alex Hudson, Franco Imperial, Allison Ishida, Stewart Kume, Trish Kume, Meg Suzuki, Adam Weiner

In 1993, two of San Jose’s oldest cultural groups, Abhinaya Dance Company and San Jose Taiko, collaborated in performance. Today the next generation—choreographers Franco Imperial and Rasika Kumar—present a new collaboration: Synergy. Dynamic Japanese taiko drummers awaken South Indian bharatanatyam dancers, and a playful exploration begins . . .

The piece underscores the unique qualities of each form, and it also accentuates what is shared: an underlying spirituality and ancient connection to religion; a dignified and commanding stage presence; commitment to rhythm and movement; and an energy that extends outward, through drumsticks and fingertips.

Bharatanatyam dance originated in South India’s ancient temples, as an exquisite blend of abstract dance (nritta) and graceful expression (nritya). The dancers’ costumes are modeled after temple sculptures and festive bridal attire, with jewelry, flowers, gold brocade, and elaborate henna designs.

In North America, taiko names both the Japanese drum and the art of kumidaiko ensemble drumming. Taiko was integral to Japanese classical and folk culture and religion. It only recently emerged as an ensemble art form of physical endurance and singleness of mind, body, and spirit.

The art form of taiko continually integrates new rhythms, and San Jose Taiko is influenced by different meters present in various world music traditions. Abhinaya dancers move to the intricate rhythmic cycles and changing meters of South Indian Carnatic music. To collaborate, Franco Imperial and Rasika Kumar created new rhythmic sequences within bharatanatyam signatures. The taiko drummers play hand-held uchiwa-daiko (fan drums), the mid-sized nagado-daiko drum, and the larger chu-daiko drum with bachi sticks. A mridangam (Indian drum) mirrors the dancers’ intricate footwork, along with cymbals, flute, and ankle bells.

Synergy was created in 2010.

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