Akademi is committed to nurturing South Asian dance talent in the UK. One of the ways we do this is by supporting artists’ projects through mentoring and advice, marketing expertise, bursaries and commissions. The nature of the project can vary from choreographic exploration to event production; from live performance to digital or from topical work to research. Discover some of the recent work by artists that Akademi has supported below.


Akademi is supporting a two-year programme for eight developing choreographers and dance makers whose practice is rooted in South Asian Dance. South Asian Dance meant in the broadest sense here from Kathak, to Odissi, to Bollywood, and Bhangra.

The programme will provide a space for these artists to re-examine their choreographic process and extend their practice through intensive weekends of creative exchange, peer-led learning, mentoring, and support.

Dvihīna, Sanskrit for ‘devoid of gender’, is an ensemble South Asian dance exploration with four diasporically‑trained Kathak dance artists of diverse gender expression.

Choreographed by Kathak artist Shyam Dattani, the piece features artists Anjali Tanna, Meera Patel, Tanveer Alam and Shyam himself. Dvihīna was selected for and premiered at The Place’s Resolution 2023.

Find out more

The digital code of binaries collides and coalesces with the age-old vocabulary of Bharatanatyam in a fascinating new dance production by Mathangi Keshavan. 0s & 1s – REWIRED! is a transfer into the visual world of data with gigabytes of information punched out by dancers through footwork, recited syllables, and sharply etched hand gestures. Music of veena, vocal and percussion, under laid by an electronic score bring alive the kaleidoscope of movement patterns, while set design and futuristic costuming all combine to create an immersive experience.

It premiered as a part of Akademi’s curated South Asian event during at Stanley Arts’ Commons Festival.

Bharatanatyam dancer Suhani Dhanki explains her ghungroo (or anklet) and why she loves to wear it, on the popular children’s show What’s in your bag? for the BBC’s CBeebies channel.

Watch the episode

#OurVarnam is a creative project gathering the Varnams of dancers across the UK into a curated online gallery. It aims to connect dancers of all forms but especially Bharatanatyam with each other and a wider audience.

The inspiration for this project is Divya Kasturi Company’s latest work, To Varnam…With Love, a story of love, devotion and commitment; to a god, to a myth, to a way of moving and being.

#OurVarnam will be a beautiful, heart-warming gallery of youthful talent and will encourage wider audiences to connect with our To Varnam…With Love performance.

Find out more

Vittha-Mai – Vitthala, My Mother is a new work that subverts gender-normative perceptions of the specifically male deity – Vitthala, using poetry, music and dance. The 30-minute work is preceded by an animated prologue called ‘Nectar-in-a-Pod’, which gives context to the work – a must watch before the performance. Originally commissioned by Spirit of Margazhi Utsav and supported by Arts Council England, Akademi, Dance East, London Performance Studios and Sampad, Vitthai-Mai premiered digitally on 9 January 2023.

Watch Vitthai-Mai on YouTube


Supported by Akademi, Velocities is a physical and reflective workshop for artists working in the South Asian dance genre to consider:

  • How to grow their artistic practice from experience in community facilitation
  • How to negotiate the unfortunate hierarchy between ‘community’ and ‘artistic’ work
  • How to use artistic frameworks to broaden the idea of ‘inclusivity’ and ‘participation’
  • How to ensure personal wellbeing while holding community spaces

The Artist Resourcing Day was held on 25 November 2022 at the Old Diorama Arts Centre and was led by the Velocities team, comprising of Shivaangee Agrawal, Meera Patel, Jane Chan and Takeshi Matsumoto.

Suba Subramaniam provided artistic mentoring to Payal Ramchandani for her new family work, Forest Dreams, due to premiere in Spring 2023.

The work, aimed at young audience particularly children aged 5‑14 years, highlights the urgency of climatic trauma that is befalling us due to selfish acts of deforestation and rampant industrialization.  It is based on The Forest Dream (an adaptation of the book by Sophia Gohlz) and tells the true story of Jadav Payeng’s who was distressed by deforestation/erosion on his dying Majuli island (world’s largest river islands in the Bramhaputra river). Weaving in Carnatic music with western soundscapes, the production is a stylistic blend of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi (both South Indian classical dance styles) and contemporary dance.

Find out more

As part of Nartan Festival in 2022, Nupur Arts presented Ānartam, an evening celebrating classical Indian and contemporary dance. The evening featured Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Odissi performances by prominent dance artists such as Suhani Dhanki Mody, Anjana Bala, Kinga Malec, Shyam Dattani and Pallavi Basak, along with a performance Nupur Arts’ senior group of dance artists.

Ānartam took place on 15 October 2022, at Curve Theatre, Leicester.


Commissioned by Akademi in partnership with Watermans, And Breathe is a climate change short film inspired by the newly introduced “Clean Air Zone’ in Birmingham and the negative reactions it generated as people were challenged with having to make changes to their habits and lifestyles.

Directed by Sima Gonsai and choreographed and performed by dance artist Kesha Raithatha, And Breathe was created as part of the Climate Change Screen Dance Commission. The film premiered as part of the Watermans’ Season for Change Programme in 2021 and has since been screened and nominated for several awards at several film festivals, with the most recent screening being at the COP27 conference.

Read Sima Gonsai’s interview with Akademi
Watch the And Breathe trailer

Co-commissioned by Akademi and Camden Council, Bedam is an ensemble, Kathak work choreographed by dance artist Shyam Dattani for the festival of lights, Diwali in 2021. The work also features dance artists Astha Desai, Mira Salat and Tulani Kayani-Skeef along with Shyam Dattani.

The first edition of Akademi’s Dance Film Festival (ADFF) took place online, 19–20 March 2021; supported by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Motion Dance Collective. Curated by screendance practitioner Omari ‘Motion’ Carter, and Akademi’s Artistic Director, Suba Subramaniam, the festival featured both new and archived South Asian dance-films, accompanied with selected talks with filmmakers and dance artists.

The films covered a wide range of topics from motherhood, the queer body and the commoditisation of identity, to India’s dream robot to the moon, amongst other thought-provoking subjects. Several of these films were a direct response to life in lockdown. Along with these, three short, original screendance works were also commissioned and showcased during the festival.

Find out more


In response to the shutdown of all live performance in 2020, we asked artists to submit proposals for work with South Asian dance at its core, which explored interesting and innovative ways in which audiences could continue to enjoy this art form in a situation where communities could not come together to experience dance in the same way. The recipients of our Seed Commissions in 2020 took their project ideas in a number of different directions, with two of the films eventually being featured in Akademi’s first ever online dance-film festival in early 2021.

Read more about the recipients and the themes they explored

In addition

Industry engagement

  • Dance East Associate Artist selection panel
  • Chaired a panel discussion on outdoor arts for XTRAX
  • Arts and the Environment panellist for East London Dance’s Continuum Programme
  • Hemantika festival selection panel
  • Panellist for a Climate Change event organised by Wessex Museums about Art and Activism
  • Suba was a judge for BBC Young Dancer Competition 2022, televised on BBC2.
  • Attended a test event for Green Space Dark Skies in Wales.
  • Attended a Wolverhampton University Arts Leadership symposium featuring midlands-based cultural leaders.

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