About the Company
Barkha Dance Company intends to create an artistic experience that bridges the gap between Indian Classical Kathak dance and modern day concepts. Entwined with grace and power, the movement and choreography performed have a strong emphasis on sound, rhythm and facial expression.
Company presentations are geared towards speaking volumes beyond aesthetic beauty and convey messages of strength and empowerment. We hope anyone who witnesses our performances, can take a journey by transcending time and place, and walk away having created a long-lasting connection to Indian culture and Kathak dance.
Barkha Patel is an Indian Classical Kathak dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Barkha Dance Company (BDC).
For two decades, Barkha has trained under great Kathak masters such as Birju Maharaj, Rachna Sarang (main Guru) and Rajendra Gangani. She completed her Masters in Kathak in India (2013-2015). To complement her education, she has trained in Bharatanatyam with Deepak Mazumdar and Hindustani musical rhythm with Divyang Vakil.
As the principal soloist (2007-2016) in Guru Sarang’s company, Barkha has performed 60-minute pieces in the U.S. and India, for former Prime Minister of India, Atal Vajpayee, and alongside renowned musicians such as Rakesh Chaurasia. The New York Times has claimed, “The brilliant virtuosity and bewitching charm of Barkha helped us forget that tape was second best [in lieu of live musicians]” when reviewing her evening length solo in NYC.
BDC (est. 2016) has been commissioned to present various themed solo and group productions. Earlier this year, Barkha performed a Kathak solo at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai and recently, BDC was commissioned by Pangea Dance Series to present a production based on immigrant experiences. She was also invited to perform pure Kathak at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out series as an Indian Classical soloist. Recently, Barkha was selected as New Jersey’s 2018 ‘best up-and-coming’ choreographers and premiered Kathak dance for this festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Juhi Desai is a dancer, multimedia journalist, and video producer based in New York City. Her work in journalism has taken her around the world, most recently for a year-long assignment in Hong Kong. She has reported and produced content for The Wall Street Journal, various South Asian media outlets, National Public Radio and PBS television affiliates, and is currently a studio operations producer at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Her experiences with dance lie in Bharatanatyam (a South Indian classical dance form), Kathak (a North Indian classical dance form), various forms of South Asian folk dance, including Bhangra, Garba, and Raas, and West African dance. Her love for journalism and dance stem from a keen enthusiasm for different forms of storytelling. Juhi is honored and excited to be working with the Barkha Dance Company amongst dancers who share a passion for meaningful storytelling through classical dance using contemporary undertones.
ISHITA MILI is a 23 year-old Urban Indian choreographer from NJ. She trained in Bharatanatyam, Indian folk fusion, and Hip Hop from a young age. After intensely training in many styles, Ishita developed her own style: Urban Indian, she even recently founded IMGE (Ishita Mili Global Exposé), a formal Urban Indian troupe comprised of diverse professional dancers from NJ/NYC. For the past year, IMGE has performed all over the tristate area including World of Dance, South Seaport Deepavali, the North American Bengali Conference, and more. Ishita also choreographed for Bangladeshi American artist Rahmaan's music video for his single "Shanti," and was featured in UK Pulse Magazine's Fall 2017 magazine. IMGE also presented their original dance drama "Rastar Katha (Street Talk)" at the Indian Heritage Cultural Association's Natya Darpan Short Play Festival 2018. Ultimately, Ishita aims to use Urban Indian as a global language that can share South Asian culture in a more modern and relevant way.
Born in Calcutta, India, Deepa Liegel was raised and began dancing in Seattle, Washington.
Growing up, she trained and performed with Cornish College of the Arts' Preparatory Dance Department under Steve Casteel and in classical Indian Kathak dance with Leela Kathak Dance under Guru Urmila Nagar. She also performed with the Seattle Theatre Group for various productions such as Dance THIS!, Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays and on KING 5 News. Deepa spent additional time training at San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, The Ailey School, The Juilliard School, Alonzo King's LINES Ballet and Mark Morris Dance Group.
In 2017, Deepa graduated cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Arts Management. While at SMU, she had the privilege of performing student choreography and masterworks by José Limón, Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones, George Balanchine, Adam Hougland and Danny Buraczeski. Deepa's own choreography was featured in the Brown Bag Dance Seriesand the Senior Dance Concert. Videos of those works can be found under Gallery.
Additionally, Deepa performed at the José Limón International Dance Festival with SMU in New York City, New York, in October 2015.
Now based in New York City, Deepa is a freelance dancer and model. Over the past year, she apprenticed with the Limón Dance Company. She has also performed with Broadway Bares, Bollywood Boulevard Tour, Catherine Cabeen/Hyphen and various fundraisers. Deepa also continues to perform with a Kathak dance company, Barkha Dance Company when time permits.
Deepa is currently an apprentice dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Group.
Henna Khanijou has been moving her feet to the beat of the music since the mere age of 2, winning several Bollywood dance competitions in her youth. At 8 years old, Henna began her training in the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak under the tutelage of renowned Kathak exponent, Pandit Satya Narayana Charka Ji, at his institute ‘East-West School of Dance’ in Long Island, New York. Since 2005, Henna has performed at various festivals and events at copious locations in the Tri-State Area. She has had the immense honor of playing the lead role for the Ramayana and Krishna Leela Dance Dramas performed by the school. Henna’s most recent collaboration with Danza España for their production “Encuentro Flamenco” at the Thalia Spanish Theatre in Queens, NY has allowed her to work with renowned Flamenco artists and musicians from the Tri-State area, as well as Seville, Spain. Besides being a performer, Henna is a very passionate teacher, and has been assisting her Guru with imparting Kathak to young children and adults for over 10 years. Henna is also a certified Group Fitness Instructor under BollyX, a High Intensity Interval Training Bollywood workout class since January 2016. She teaches 5 classes in Northern New Jersey weekly, and has partaken in various special events for marathons, universities, etc. Besides dance, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University at Buffalo and a Masters Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Rutgers University, NJMS Campus.
Ananya Modi is a 16-year-old high school sophomore at Friends Seminary who has been training with Barkha Dance Company for over three years. She grew up learning Kathak in Mumbai since the age of 9. She has also trained in classical ballet for 9 years at Bella Academy. After moving to New York in September 2016, she started dancing at the Joffrey Ballet School where she performed in the Nutcracker (2017) and Alice in Wonderland (2018). She performed in the Dancers Responding to AIDS benefit at her school in May 2018. She also enjoys taking salsa and jazz classes. Ananya is very excited and truly grateful to performing as a company professional with Barkha Dance Company.