World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Mona Khan Company Emerging Performers

GENRE: Bollywood
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2013

The Mona Khan Company is one of the largest Bollywood dance companies in North America, specializing in dance and fitness. Their professional dance troupe has performed with Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Amrita Rao, Kunal Ganjawala, Shankar Mahadevan, and Shaan. In addition, they have been featured at a Golden State Warriors’ halftime event in 2010, and competed in NBC’s “America’s Got Talent“ in Season 5. Recently, they performed at the Indiaspora Inaugural Ball in honor of President Obama in Washington D.C. They offer many classes for all age groups in several Bay Area locations.


GENRE: Bollywood
Mona Sampath Khan
Monika Ramaswamy, Shobana Shankar
Prerana Acharyya, Sahil Adhawade, Nupur Agarwal, Tushar Agashe, Natasha Aji, Dakshata Anand, Sai Birla, Mithil Chakraborty, Twisha Chawla, Khushi Datt, Divya Ganesan, Alisha Grewal, Pranavshri Hariharan, Bhuvan Jammalamadaka, Hrithik Jariwala, Vega Jethani, Akhil Joondeph, Nikitha Kartikeyan, Aanya Khatri, Tanvi Krishnan, Tanya Lulla, Aastha Patel, Maiya Patel, Sakshi Prabhu, Ishika Seth, Anisha Sharma, Ashna Singh, Anya Srivatsava, Tanveen Singh, Milita Vazirani
A.R. Rahman, Himesh Reshamiya, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Jalsa is a joyful performance of Bollywood dance, a form born in Mumbai’s film studios and now a popular art form. The style merges classical dance—bharatnatyam gestures and postures, kathak turns, and folk dance forms garba, raas, and bhangra— with western styles of jazz, hip-hop, and modern dance. The company’s emerging performers are seven to eleven years old. The music is from Bollywood film, and the piece pays tribute to four of India’s thousands of festivals:

, the Festival of Colors, marks the beginning of spring and it’s dedicated to Lord Krishna. The girls dance with dupatta veils, and the boys dance with pichkaaris, toys used during Holi to spray water and color on people; just as Lord Krishna once playfully doused the gopi milkmaids. The song is “Rang Barse” telling of girls wearing dupattas and getting drenched.

Ganpati celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesh—the Hindu elephantheaded divinity, with a procession to immerse idols of Ganesh in the sea. The dancers  play instruments from the western state of Maharasthra: lejims, with dangling cymbals; big cymbals called zanza; and tambourines. In the song, devotees beg Lord Ganesh to return to the world, and to remove all obstacles.

Diwali is the fall/winter Festival of Lights. It has different meanings in different regions, but everyone celebrates with new clothes, firecrackers, and gifts. Families also light clay oil lamps to honor good over evil. The song says: Let my life burn, my spirit burn. Underneath my eyes, smoke rises. The boys dance with swords to honor the southeastern region of Kerala.

Janmasthmi celebrates Lord Krishna’s birth with fasting and prayer. It’s also traditional to form a human pyramid and break a hanging clay pot filled with buttermilk, a favorite dish of Krishna’s. The song is from the perspective of Lord Krishna, who is trying to charm a girl.

Today’s costumes are festival bright, with rich fabric and ornate designs. The girls wear karat tops and salwar pants typical of Northern India, specifically Punjab. The boys wear the traditional kurtas and pajamas worn by men all over India. The piece was created in Fall 2012 by Mona Sampath, using original choreography by Monika Ramaswamy and Shobana Shankar.

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