Dr. Mamata Niyogi-Nakra

Founder/President, The Kala Bharati Foundation

Personal particulars

Choreographer, Teacher, Scholar – Bharata Natya, Indian classical dance
Address – 3410 Sherbrooke St. East, Montreal, H1W 1C6
Telephone – 514 522 9239
e-mail – mamata@nakrabm.com

Training and Background

Mamata Niyogi-Nakra started her dance training in 1953, at Arts and Artists, in Patna, India, with Guru Bala Krishnan, a leading disciple of Guru U.S. Krishna Rao of Bangalore. On completion of her basic training with Guru Bala Krishnan, she went for advanced training in Bharata Natya to Guru U.S. Krishna Rao and his wife Guru U.K. Chandrabhaga Devi, on a scholarship. She has had along standing and loyal association since 1957 with her Gurus, two of the most renowned exponents of the Pandanallur style of Bharata Natya.

Mamata performed extensively in India. She also gave performances in the U.K.and Europe, but an accident in 1969, soon after her arrival in Canada, left her with a permanent injury, which brutally and abruptly cut her off from performing Bharata Natya. With the passage of time she was able to regain her interest in dance and with the blessings of her Gurus, she started teaching the art in Montreal in 1979.

In recognition of her contribution to Indian Classical Dance and Bharata Natya, Mamata Niyogi-Nakra has been mentioned under the section Guru Parampara in the book Bharatanatyam, published by Marg Publications, Bombay (1997).

The award that Mamata cherishes most is the award given to her by her Gurus U.S. Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi on the occasion of Golden Jubilee Celebrations of their institution, Maha Maya to honour her as one of the sixteen Gurus of Indian Classical Dance for their contribution to the art of dance.

As a teacher

  • Founded the Kala Bharati Dance School in Montreal in July 1981;
  • Trained many dancers leading up to and including their graduation (Ranga Pravesh);
  • Director of the Summer Residency Bharata Natya Teacher Training Programme (2003), at Kala Bharati, funded by the National Arts Training Contribution Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada;
  • Many of her students are teaching at their own schools;
  • Formed La Troupe Kala Bharati made up of dancers entirely trained by her at this school.

As a Choreographer and Artistic Director

  • Artistic Director of La Troupe Kala Bharati and creator of numerous innovative group choreographies in Bharata Natya, including Seasonscape, Kriya Marga, Padukarchana, Dasavatar, Arjuna, Aalapana and others;
  • Invited by Indian Television (Doordarshan) to present her choreographies for recording at their Production Centre in New Delhi, for telecasting as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Indian Independence;
  • Created a new repertoire of classical Bharata Natya items designed for children;
  • Choreographed a series of vignettes in Bharata Natya style to capture Haiku moments;
  • Choreographed an Indian dance piece for the music video of singer Marie Denise Pelletier’s award winning song “Inventer la terre”;
  • Acknowledged in India, by critics and connoisseurs, as a leading choreographer in Bharata Natya;
  • Collaborated with many dancers in Montreal and India;
  • Presented her choreographies in different cities in India, Canada, The U.S. and Europe, Martinique
  • In Canada the presentations have been made in Montreal, Quebec city, Drummondville, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, and elsewhere;
  • In Montreal, she has presented her work regularly with La Troupe Kala Bharati, independently and in collaboration with various other organizations, among them:
    • Tangente,
    • Maisons de la culture,
    • Place des Arts,
    • Intercultural organizations,
    • Les Sortileges,
    • Asian Heritage Festival,
    • Indian and other ethnic community organizations

Presentation of lec-dems ,workshops and papers at conferences and academic forums

  • Has given numerous courses, workshops and lecture demonstrations on Bharata Natya, in colleges, universities and for the public at large all over the world;
  • Has supervised studies in Indian Dance by students at Concordia University and at University of Quebec in Montreal;
  • Dance and the Child international Conference at Kingston,( 2009) Jamaica
  • Dhitang at Arobindo Institute of Indian Culture, Kolkata (2007)
  • Dance and the Child International Conference, The Hague, The Netherlands (2006)
  • Lecture Demostration on Child-Friendly repertoire India Internatioal Centre Delhi ,
  • Rotary Club, Chennai India (2005)
  • Dance and the Child International Conference, Regina, Canada (2000),
  • Colloque on Indian Classical Dances outside the country of origin, organized by Vox Populi, Tangente, and Kala Bharati, Montreal (1997),
  • Sruti and India International Centre Conference on E.Krishna Iyer,Delhi, Madras(1997),
  • Dance and the Child International Summer Camp, Netherlands (1996),
  • Indian dance conference, Carlton University, Ottawa (1994),
  • Natyakala Conference on Dance, Madras (1994),
  • New Directions in Indian Dance, Toronto (1993),
  • Maha Maya Dance Symposium Bangalore (1992),
  • Ragmala conference on Music and Dance, Saskatoon (1990),
  • Festival of Indian Dance and Music, New Delhi (1989),
  • Dance and the Child International Conference, London, U.K. (1988),
  • Indian Dance Conference, Toronto University (1985),
  • OrganisingSymposium on Indian Classical Dance, University of Quebec in Montreal and Kala Bharati, Montreal, (1982)

As an Author

  • Co-author with Vincent Warren “Crafting Dance: Two Voices” (in preparation);
  • Many published articles on Indian Classical Dance;
  • Shishu Sadhana , Child friendly Bharata Natya Repertoire , Book with a DVD (2005)
  • Notebooks on Guidelines for Residency Course material (2003)
  • Nrityalekha I and II, two manuals with dance notes and activities for Bharata Natya teaching (1985)

Other Activities

  • Member of Canada Council’s Advisory Committee for Dance (2000-’01).
  • Member of Canada Council’s 4th Advisory Committee for Racial Equality in the Arts (1999-2002).
  • Member of Jury on numerous occasions, for evaluation of grants applications for dance professionals (Canada Council) and for others.
  • Member of RDQ since its inception
  • Much sought after figure in North America and India for her expertise on Indian dance.

Promotion of Interculturalism

  • Organized and moderated several seminars, symposiums and colloques at Kala Bharati
  • Has developed the Kala Bharati Centre for Documentation and Cultural Resources for students carrying out studies in Indian culture.
  • Director of the Kala Bharati project “Window on the World”;
  • Collaborated with Professor Gilles Maloney of Laval University for a course on Indian civilization;
  • Collaborated with professor Donna Davidson in a summer programme of personal enrichment at McGill University;

A brilliant student of Patna University (India), a British Council scholar and with a Ph.D in applied linguistics from the University of Montreal, Mamata brings a keen academic interest to her study and teaching of Bharata Natya, endeavouring with tireless effort, to promote it as a world art form.