Creative Team


Founder/Artistic Director/Choreographer:

Aparna Sindhoor


S M Raju (Rajendran Sivasankaran)


Anil Natyaveda (Sukumara Pillai)


Isaac Thomas Kottukapally

Aparna Sindhoor is the Artistic Director of Navarasa Dance Theater.

Sindhoor has trained in Bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance form) for over 20 years, including 15 years with Dr. K. Venkatalakshamma, one of the foremost proponents of the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam, where Abhinaya (facial expression) and graceful Jathis (pure dance compositions) are emphasized. Sindhoor has been giving accomplished professional performances since her arangetram (graduation solo recital) in 1989. Sindhoor holds a Vidwat (Masters) in Dance, a Masters in English, and a Bachelors degree in Dance, Literature and Dramatics. She was awarded the gold medal in 1990 for finishing first in dance at the University of Mysore. She received her doctorate in Dance, Cultural and Women's Studies from Boston University in 2009.

Since 1996 Sindhoor has been working on dance theater forms with SM Raju (Rajendran M. Sivasankaran) that bring varied art forms and styles to tell contemporary stories. From stories like The Incident and After, Hunt, Clothes, Draupadi, and River Rites, written by contemporary writers, Sindhoor and Raju have created works that give a new dimension to the content and beauty of the dance performance. Using Indian classical dance, yoga, songs, martial arts, stories and folk dances, they explore new ways of presenting without compromising the beauty of the forms. This has made their work more interesting and accessible to diverse audiences. Sindhoor brings a unique blend of depth into the content, novelty in the presentation and extraordinary artistry.

An accomplished choreographer and performer, Sindhoor is known for her creativity and power to push boundaries. She has conceived and choreographed over 20 full-length dance works. She was awarded grants from the Human Resource Development Agency, Government of India, for her dance works, Vachanadara and A Concise Portrait of Indian Woman. In these works, she has expanded the boundaries of the traditional Bharatanatyam recital in terms of the subject, style and production. In A Concise Portrait of Indian Woman, she used regional folk dance as part of the choreography along with the classical dance. She was sponsored by Urban Bush Women to attend the workshop A New Dancer for a New Society at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida in the summer of 1997. She has collaborated with artists and companies such as Robert Uno of New World Theater, Rangayana and Rahul Varma of Teesri Duniya. She was one of the choreographers for Santhosh Sivan's film, Anandabadhram. She has received grants from Arts International, Somerville Arts Council, Massachusetts Arts Council and UMass Arts Council. Sindhoor is the founding director of Navarasa Natyalaya, a performance art school in Mysore.

Aparna Sindhoor is also an experienced actor. Nagamandala, in which she acted as the protagonist Rani, won the best play of the year award at the Karnataka Nataka (theater) Academy. She is one of the three women featured in a documentary film about artists, Take It From Me (2001 Nefertiti Productions). Her works have been showcased in the US, Canada, Germany and India including venues and festivals like Jacob's Pillow, Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performance Arts Center, La MaMa and New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Anil Natyaveda is a Co-Director of Navarasa Dance Theater. He is a choreographer, dancer, teacher and martial artist (kalari ppyattu) from Triuvanathapuram, India. Anil has trained in classical, contemporary and aerial dance forms with renowned teachers including Daksha Seth, Professor Shivanandan, Jayachandran, Vembayam Appukuttan Nair, Uday Deshpande and Govindankutti Gurukal. He has a degree in Dance from Sree Swathithirunal Music College, India. He also acquired the teacher-training degree in Dance: Project Sakrthaya. He has been a professional dancer since 1991. He has performed all over the world including at the Edinburgh Dance Festival, Germany International Summer Theatre Festival, Hong Kong Art Festival, Khaguraho Festival in Dance, Kozh Company, UK celebrating Indian Independence. He performs and teaches dance classes in the US, Canada, and India. He choreographed for Indian films, including Santhosh Sivan’s film, Anandabadhram. In 2008 the Kerala State Guru Gopinath Trust, India, honored him with the Natyaratnam award and in 2012, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute award for his contribution to Indian arts. Critics have hailed him as an important contemporary choreographer creating original works.

Co-Founder and Co-Director: S M Raju (Rajendran Meena Sivasankaran) has a computer science bachelors from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India and did his graduate studies at UMass Amherst, MA. He worked as a senior researcher in Verizon Labs and then went on to start Knumi, a venture funded startup in 2000 that developed cutting edge video search and voice based search technologies. He has two US patents to his credit. His passion for film and theater has led him to write, direct and produce several theater works for Navarasa Dance Theater. He has produced TV shows, films, children’s animation content and over 120 educational videos for school children for the government of Tamilnadu, India. He is also a multiple winner of the James Baldwin playwright award. He was one of the executive producers of Anandabhadram, a Malayalam feature film ( His critically acclaimed directorial debut film Varnam ( was released in theatres in India in 2011 and was officially selected for the London Asian Film Festival 2011, Montreal World Film Festival 2011, Chennai International Film Festival 2011, Norway Tamil Film Festival 2012, the New York Indian Film Festival 2012 and the Roxbury International Film Festival 2012.

Music Composer: Isaac Thomas Kottukapally, a graduate of the Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune, India, is an award-winning Producer, Director and Music Director of ad films, documentaries and feature films. He was also one of the founders of the Malayalam TV channel Asianet. He has composed music for numerous ad films, short features, documentaries and more than 30 State, National, and International Award winning feature films in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Assamese, Hindi and English for directors like the Late G Aravindan, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Shaji Karun, T.V. Chandran, Girish Kasarvalli, Kavitha Lankesh, Janaki Viswanathan, S.M. Raju, and Madhu Ambat. He is the winner of the National and State award for Best Music in Indian film in 2011.