Anjali Center For Performing Arts Turns 40!

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HOUSTON: 1975 was a hallmark year for the Houston arts scene – Rathna Kumar arrived in the city and founded the Anjali Center for Performing Arts, thereby forever changing the cultural map of Texas. Rathna is a professional dancer trained in two styles of Indian classical dance – Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi – by renowned gurus Kalaimanani K. J. Sarasa and Padma Bhushan Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, and her Anjali Center is the first Indian dance institute not only in Texas, but the entire Southwest of the United States, and one of the first in the country.

Starting with just two students in the first class, Anjali has grown in size, stature, and reputation over these past four decades. Rathna was the first to establish a Gurukul system in the US, providing board and lodge to students who came from all over the country to learn from her. Some of the more serious and dedicated ones went on to have their Arangetrams / Rangapravesams in their own cities – Chicago (ILL), Toledo (OH), Rochester (NY), Washington (DC), Charleston (NC), Denver (CO), and even India, with Rathna ‘conducting’ for them. Over 150 students have completed their prescribed training, given their successful debut performances, and continued to learn, perform, and even teach and choreograph. Still others have brought their children to learn from their guru, thereby giving a continuum to the activities of imparting and receiving artistic knowledge. Anjali dancers have won dance competitions at state, national and international levels, have won Texas Young Masters scholarships in dance and become Finalists at the National Foundation for the Arts’ Young Arts scholarships.

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At Anjali traditions are safely preserved and classical arts venerated, but there is modernity in outlook and presentation and, as in everything else in the twenty-first century, technology plays an important role. Anjali dancers have been featured in more than 25 of their Guru’s productions, all of them originals, such as Ram Katha and Shivoham (both presented under the aegis of the Chinmaya Mission, Houston Chapter), Poornam, Pratyaksha: The Power of Myth, Colors of Life: Navarasa, The Story of Rama (a children’s dance theater production), Talking Drums, , Ekta ki Awaaz: The Voice of Unity, Distinct Drums, Indian Express(ion), Dashavatar, Om Namah Shivaya, Jaya Jaya Ganesha and Nivedana (for the Sri Meenakshi Temple).

On Feb 13, 2015, Anjali lost its greatest motivator, the much loved and respected Anil Kumar. On Saturday, August 15, the Staff and Students of the Anjali Center will present LAYA-LAASYA, dedicated to Anil Kumar, the silent strength behind the Center’s success. Anjali’s students from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and up to 2015, are converging upon Houston from all over the country for a happy dancing reunion, proving to the world the strength of the guru-sishya bond, and that age cannot wither nor custom stale the beauty of classical dance. Most appropriately, the Chief Guests for this event are the Consul General of India, Hon. Shri Harish Parvathaneni and Smt. Nandita Parvathaneni, who are themselves great lovers and patrons of classical arts.

Where: Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash Rd, Stafford, 77477When: 3.00 to 6.00 PM
Tickets: VIP, $100, $50, $25 – available at or at the Anjali Center (832 275 9658 / 832 462 0299)