Judging Navadal dance competition: Being on the judging panel for Navadal 2017 and 2019, the Akademi’s national Indian classical youth dance competition, has been a privilege. It is so incredible to see how strong the Indian classical dance scene is becoming here in the UK, it’s something to be really proud of.
Training in India: I can remember sitting in my math class at school daydreaming about what it would be like to be in a dance class in India. Being among some of the best dancers and live musical accompaniment, and to be inspired and challenged. After training for many years in London, my dream became a reality when I got the chance to train at the renowned kathak institute Kadamb in Ahmedabad, India.
Teaching: Being involved as a tutor for the national youth dance programme CAT (centre for advanced training) means, I get to witness and be part of the dance journey of some of the UK’s most promising and passionate young dancers.
Collaboration: In 2017, I had the chance to collaborate with Medieval Celtic Folk band Perkelt. The opportunity to bring together two passions of mine (kathak and medieval music) was a concoction I couldn’t resist. This experience inspired me to explore more into the world of collaboration.
Performing at Denmark Aarhus festival: The response and excitement from an open-air audience to kathak presented in its most pure form with live music was quite unexpected; it was like being at a rock concert.
Sharing the stage: I had just finished my GCSEs and was selected to perform at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall with an ensemble of professional kathak dancers, supporting three generations of dancers; Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pratap Pawar and Akram Khan. Being among senior dancers from India and the UK taught me so much and gave me a feeling of what life might be like as a professional kathak dancer.
Improvisation: There is nothing more liberating than to hear some music and start moving. In kathak, improvisation is a vital part of the form and something that I can get lost in when doing my footwork practise. I often feel at my most receptive when practising on my kitchen floor, as funny as that may sound.
Exploring new languages: After having mainly worked within the style of kathak, Paradiso produced by Akademi in 2016-17 and choreographed by Jose Agudo enabled me to really immerse myself in the creative process of contemporary choreography, alongside contemporary dancers. It opened up new possibilities for my dance career.
Dance and empowerment: In 2017, I was involved in a project through Akademi, Royal Collection and Bagri Foundation, where I worked with women from challenging life circumstances to create an ensemble kathak-based performance at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. Many of them had never performed in front of an audience; it was incredibly rewarding to see how powerful dance and music can be in transforming someone’s sense of self.
Composing music for dance: I have had an equal passion for both dance and music. Composing music for other dancers has been a very stimulating way for me to try and bring the two worlds together.
Archita Kumar is a London-based kathak artist, choreographer, musician and composer. She has been Akademi’s DAREDEVAS artist and also performed in the company’s productions. She is also the recipient of the Bonnie Bird Marion North Choreographic Mentoring Award supported by Akademi and will be performing in their presentation Apotheosis at British Museum in London on November 15.