SAMARPANA - An offering through dance

Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

31/07/2015 - 02/08/2015

Production Details

The Mudra Dance Company is back to perform at the Whitireia Theatre in Wellington in the exciting new production of Samarpana – An offering through dance.

This celebration of 25 years of performance by Mudra Dance Company –Samarpana will be a kaleidoscope of motion, colour, music, mime and rhythm. The dances highlight Kinra’s choreography which combines traditional and innovative elements of dance. Characterized by exotic beauty and charm, Mudra Dance Company is a visual feast of brilliant sari colours, traditional headdresses of braids and flowers, and the sparkle of jewellery.


Samarpana – An offering through dance

The central dance piece of Samarpana will depict the ten most celebrated incarnations of Lord Mahavishnu. He is the unconquerable preserver of the Hindu Trinity and incarnates into various forms of Avatars on earth to destroy evil and re-establish Dharma or righteous justice.

This year sees the Mudra Dance Company dance out from under the shadows of their creator and visionary Vivek Kinra, who after a long and inspirational dance career will not be performing alongside his beautiful dancers.

Kinra says “As I take on new challenges and directions in life I retire from performing with reverence and gratitude for the magic of the ancient Indian art form of Bharata-Natyam. It’s not the end it’s just the beginning and I am sure the audience will be delighted by the performances of the Mudra Dance Company in this performance and into the future.

Mudra Dance Company will excite the audience with fast moving thematic dance pieces that will showcase the incredible talent of this highly regarded dance company.

Take the opportunity to see Mudra Dance Company live in these stunning performances.


Whitireia Theatre,
25-27 Vivian Street

Fri 31th July at 7.30pm
Sat 1st August at 7.30pm 
Sun 2nd August at 4.00pm 

2 hours including an intermission of 20 minutes


Waged $30, $25 (concessions or group bookings over 6), $20 Students 
Available from Event 
or phone 0800 289 849 
Booking fees may apply 

For further information, media enquires and imagery contact:
Mark Graham: 
Publicist, Mudra Dance Company
Tel: 021 550 245


MUDRA DANCERS:  Ashleen Deepika Singh, Kaajal Patel, Rachna Raj Pillay, Radhika Bhikha,Varshini Suresh, Zeenat Vintiner, Archana Arunthavathas, Banu Sivanantharajah, Fariha Islam, Kalyani Dixit, Krisha Narayan, Leeshma Srirankanathan,  Rukmani Iyer, Shruthi Bahirathan.  Anjali Aroha Thulkanam, Anjana Naidu, Esther McCreadie, Harini Shanthakumar, Nandita Guda, Piyali Sharma, Reema Magan, Shambhavi Choudhury, Yekta Reddy. 


MUSIC COMPOSITION by Kadayanallur Shri Venkataraman & Shri T K Padmanabhan


MUSIC RECORDINGS - Music especially recorded for Mudra Dance Company at: oundsense Studios in Chennai, India

ORCHESTRA: Male Vocalist & Nattuvangam: Shri A S Murali   Female Vocalist: Smt Radha Badri  Mridangam: Shri K Gopinath   Violin: Shri T K Padmanabhan   Flute: Shri T Sashidhar Veena: Shri M Ramesh   Special Effects: Shri G Parthasarathy

PUBLICIST:   Mark Graham     

STAGE MANAGER:   Mark Graham   
TECHNICIAN:   Vernon Prime

SET DESIGN:   Sripathy Acharya (Chennai, India)   

COSTUMES:   Shanthi Tailors (Chennai, India)    

WEB DESIGN: Jack Robinson  

PHOTOGRAPHY: Devan Menon & Prakash Joseph

VIDEOGRAPHY: Sean Robinson     PRINTING:   Pivotal Thames

LIBRARY DISPLAYS:   Alan Ottaway   POSTER PASTING:   Phantom Billstickers












Vivek Kinra is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher of the Indian classical dance form of Bharata-Natyam and he has performed successfully in India, Russia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. He has an ecstatic quality of passion and precision in his dance, which makes him memorable and sets him apart.


He holds the prestigious post-graduate Diploma from Kalakshetra, the renowned academy for the study of this dance style in Chennai, India. He is also a former faculty member of Kalakshetra. This academy was established by the great exponent of Bharata-Natyam, the late Rukmini Devi, who played a pioneering role in the revival of this ancient dance form. As an artist and a person, Kinra feels deeply indebted to Rukmini Devi and his teachers at Kalakshetra.  


From a young age he began training with Guru Sridharan Nayar. Later, he studied with several outstanding exponents of Bharata-Natyam at Kalakshetra and he was awarded a Government of India scholarship for advanced studies there. Kinra participated in many of Kalakshetra’s famous dance-dramas and was acclaimed for his various lead roles.


Since early 1990, Kinra has been teaching in Wellington, New Zealand. In early 1992, he established the New Zealand Academy of Bharata-Natyam and is its Artistic Director. The Academy is flourishing with a large number of keen students and is the foremost institution in New Zealand for training in this dance style. It also plays an important role in cultural awareness and identity in New Zealand’s ever growing multicultural society.


Kinra has given lecture-demonstrations to various organisations, including the New Zealand School of Dance, the New Zealand Drama School, Victoria University of Wellington Music Department and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.


During his illustrious dance career in New Zealand, which has spanned over 25 years, Kinra has created numerous  new thematic dance productions with a blend of traditional and innovative concepts, which he has performed with the dancers of the Mudra Dance Company. His performances have consistently been received with rave reviews and large audiences. He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2010 Queen’s Birthday honours for his huge contribution to the New Zealand dance scene. In February 2015 he received the Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian Award for his outstanding contribution to Wellington through his work with Indian classical dance.


Kinra’s work has also been recognised and supported by Creative New Zealand (Arts Council of New Zealand) including grants which have enabled him to return to India to choreograph new dance works. These have included the productions of Shiva the Cosmic Dancer, Ashta Nayika, Vaishnavam, Rasa the Emotional Journey, Shiva Geeti Mala, Krishna the Divine Lover, Utsav, Chakra, Angika, Shree Ram Katha, Incarnations, Anand Joy in Motion, Bharatam, Shree Krishna Leela and Satvika.


Successfully obtaining a reputation for excellence through his performances, intensive courses, workshops, lectures and demonstrations both nationally and internationally, Vivek Kinra is undisputedly one of the leading exponents and a celebrated dancer of this rich and complex art form in New Zealand.


After a time, excellence becomes increasingly difficult to write about, without resorting to familiar superlatives. Kinra presents such a problem.” -The Dominion, Wellington.


Indian classical dance , Dance ,

2 hours

Vivek Kinra & Mudra Dance Company in Samarpana

Review by Mona Williams 19th Aug 2015

Vivek’s genius, as Director of Mudra Dance Company, choreographer, dance teacher and producer of this concert, is as undeniable as it is startling. Celebrating the Silver Jubilee of his company, two challenges appeared to imperil the show. Vivek, the consummately exquisite, sole male dancer had chosen a dignified exit from future full time performing. However, the tradition-defined Bharata Natyam dances on the programme, to be performed by an exclusively female corps, chronicled the exalted or destructive actions of male deities. Lord Subrahmanya’s six facets of his complex personality were to be portrayed by beautiful, spirited young women, as would Lord Krishna’s ten incarnations. Given the emphatically gendered tradition of this dance form, how well could females portray a muscular, male, flesh-tearing, half-lion-half-human? Or a boar? Or Buddha? Or an aggressive steed-riding, sword-brandishing, evil-destroying male? Or a god who washes away evil with a flood of blood? 

Read the review 


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Superb artistry and precision of Bharata-Natyam

Review by Chris Jannides 03rd Aug 2015

Vivek Kinra’s production of Samarpana is a series of six dance items in the classical Indian style of Bharata-Natyam. His dance company, Mudra, features graduates and advanced students from his academy in central Wellington. This is not a professional company of dancers in the sense of a full-time occupation. The great majority of its members are students at university finishing degrees in a wide variety of areas such as Psychology, Early Childhood Education, Commerce and Law. All of which are heading them away from the insecurities of a life in performance dance (if such a thing were even possible here in NZ when it comes to classical Indian dance), towards potentially secure careers of significant worth in other disciplines. Nevertheless, the technical skills and performance expertise of Mudra’s core company are of an extremely high standard, verging on fully professional.

As a European with no in-depth knowledge of either Bharata-Natyam or Hindu culture, how am I to review such a performance? The uninitiated are helped in a number of ways. The programme contains descriptions for each of the dance items of the stories and entities from the pantheon of Hindu gods, demons and others of which they’re about. There are references, for instance, to ‘six faced Lord Subrahmanya who rides a peacock’; Balarama the plowman who ‘brings the river Yamuna close to the village with the power of his plow’; and to Lord Krishna/Mahavishnu who, in one of his many incarnations as a ‘Boar’, ‘lifts the whole earth on the tip of his tusk, like a speck of dust caught on the crescent moon’.

Further assistance comes from the artistic director Vivek Kinra himself, who, in spite of the fact that he has now retired from dancing, graces us between each item with a short display – almost in the form of a small lecture demonstration to a voice over – where he performs key gestural motifs from the choreography we are about to see. These are mini-versions of the longer works. This guides our attention to the way the movement communicates the characters, plots and actions that are being depicted, as well as sung about in the accompanying music.

At the interval, I realise I need more help. The storylines are fantastical and highly bizarre. Outside the religious circle and faith of Hindu practitioners, how might others engage with these ancient scriptural narratives? An Indian gentleman kindly explains some of the symbolism of the Hindu myths to me. Going back 5000 years, he says they are ‘pre-scientific’ ways of describing and predicting the evolutionary genesis of humankind using the only means at their disposal – imaginative imagery and personification. In the dance dramas we are watching, for instance, there is a chronology at play, spanning aeons, with references to such things as primeval oceans, hunter-gathering, agriculture and the advancement of civilisation.

My eyes are slightly altered in the second half. Bharata-Natyam’s roots are in the Hindu temples of Southern India. Although I am sitting in a theatre with my usual superficial expectations of entertainment and displays of highly skilled performing, I experience a deepening of appreciation. Assisted by burning incense in the make-shift shrine at the side of the stage, temple and theatre combine as I become more mindful of other more traditional uses of dance to safe-guard, illustrate and pass-on elaborate forms of understanding and knowledge. Suddenly, this small, gorgeously costumed troupe of dancing women are empowered as the latest incarnations of generations. There is much more than just dance knowledge being kept alive here in the ‘software’ of these young-looking, earth-stomping, gestural guardians with ankle-bells.

As to the performers themselves, my critical eye as a contemporary dance practitioner takes in a lot of information. I look for the dancer that pulls my eye, either for their performance skill and presence, or, conversely, because they’re perhaps out of time. I make comparisons between their different faces and expressions, gauging what I sense might be going on internally. I look for precision and imprecision of movement. I ask myself: who am I to look at and why? 

As a group, this troupe is well-drilled and each person at some point has a moment where they stand out and shine as an individual artist. There are hours and hours of learning and training on display. They all have good levels of authority and confidence on stage, some a little bit more than others. Those with more are able to conceal technique behind expression, which is particularly noticeable with the speedier movements of the eyes. The stand-out performers go even further. For instance, I am particularly drawn to Kaajal Patel in her solo work who finds the right balance between expressive energy and restraint. This is a mark of maturity in a performer. It’s great to feel that a dancer has even more to give, that there’s more in reserve. 

A distinct feature of Bharata-Natyam is that it mixes highly stylised movement with equal amounts of emotional expression and role-playing. The performers act as much as they dance. Extreme changes of mood and character in any one dancer can be very swift. In terms of a stand-out person in this regard, Varshini Suresh has to be mentioned. Her extremely expressive eyes and face and virtuosic dancing is both impressive and compelling. In contrast to her colleague, Kaajal, Varshini leaves nothing in reserve, yet is able to produce unexpected surprises and subtleties of emotion.

A balance that is interesting for me to observe is that between solo and ensemble work. These performers are required to do both, yet the demands of each are very different. In spite of faultless timing and spatial skills, there are moments when individuals, as performers, forget they are in ensemble, and stand out too much. Alternatively, there are others who, when they are in ensemble, forget that they must still have a mature individuality of presence. These last reflections lead me to comment on the balance that a performance such as this strikes when hovering between the worlds of professional and recreational dance. At the core of Mudra are standards equal to the highest in the profession. At the other end, there is the requirement to satisfy the concert demands of a teaching academy. 

I can’t help but speculate on what the outcomes might be like if the more professionally-ready members of the group had a separate opportunity for even more progressive and refined levels of performance growth and experience. 

Vivek Kinra has received copious amounts of praise and recognition for his choreography, his teaching and his contribution as a dance artist to the cultural diversity and makeup of our community. I must now humbly add my own to his extensive list of admirers. Here is a master-craftsman in the fields of performance and teaching who, through the passionate discipline and superb example of his students, is nurturing and ensuring the ongoing health and exquisite flowering of his chosen dance form, Bharata-Natyam. 


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