Mythili Kumar of Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose


Mythili Kumar (Artistic Director and Choreographer) is an accomplished artist who performed extensively in India before moving to the U.S. in 1978 and founding Abhinaya Dance School in 1980. Her artistic ability and the high quality of her dance choreography have been recognized in the U.S where she has been awarded several Choreographer’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Abhinaya Dance Company of San Jose was founded by its Artistic Director Mythili Kumar in 1980, to present innovative and professional quality performances of South Indian classical dance forms. Since 1986, Abhinaya has staged several full-length dance dramas.

Bharatanatyam is an ancient classical dance form that was performed and nurtured in the temples of Tamil Nadu in Southern India as a part of the daily worship. Graceful movement, mime, and music contribute in equal measure to this traditional and beautiful dance. Speaking a universal language of gestures, replete with diverse moods and emotions and portraying rhythmic precision, the dance essentially brings to life the glorious sculptures of the temples as well as the mythology of the land. This dance is accompanied by classical South Indian or Carnatic music, while the rhythm is kept by the cymbals and the mridangam (horizontal drum). The dancer wears anklets of small bells to emphasize the rhythm. This style is one of the most ancient and arguably the best-known classical dance forms of India.

Name of song: Vaishnav jana tho
Composer: Narsi Mehta
Language: Gujarati
Raagam (melody): Khamaj; Taalam(rhythmic cycle): Tritaal

This is a Bhajan or devotional song, Vaishnav jana tho, in the language Gujaraati from Western India. The vocalist sings the lyrics to the accompaniment of the percussionists-tabla and mridangam and cymbals along with the violin. The music is a devotional lyric by the poet Narsi Mehta. This was a favorite lyric of Mahatma Gandhi that describes the righteous person who shows the qualities of compassion and treats all equally. A Vaishnava – devotee of Vishnu- feels in his heart the pain and sufferings of all, is not conceited and shows no deceit, greed or lust. This piece is presented as an adult giving a child lessons in treating all with compassion, and in the same manner, not coveting other’s goods, but letting anger and greed fly off like a bird in the sky. Traditionally the Bharatanatyam dress is elaborate with multiple bright colors. For this piece, Mythili dresses more simply and is honoring the Bharatanatyam tradition with a single flower and blue Sari.


Dance Origin:

Dance Genre:
Indian Classical Dance

Cultural or Ethnic Identity of the performance piece:
South Indian Classical Dance-Bharatanatyam

Who’s Who

Artistic Director/Choreographer/Dancer:
Mythili Kumar

Asha Ramesh (vocals) • N.Narayan (mridangam) • Ravi Gutala (tabla) • Shanthi Narayan (violin) • Mythili Kumar (cymbals)


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