The dance performance “We Sinful Women” is based on eight Urdu poems from the book We Sinful Women, written by Pakistani poets Ishrat Aafreen, Kishwar Naheed, Zehra Nigah and Fahmida Riaz, published in Pakistan in 1990. It features original music composed by two-time Canadian Grammy winner and composer Kiran Ahluwalia. “We Sinful Women” premiered in Spring 2018 at the Danspace Project, at St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Janaki Patrik has been trained in Kathak classical North Indian dance, Hindustani vocal and tabla drumming at the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, by several of North India’s greatest artists, Kathak Guru Pandit Birju Maharaj, vocalist Vidushi Siddheswari Devi and percussionist Sri Purushottam Das. As well, she has trained in music and dance idioms of her native United States. Janaki has studied classical Western flute, ballet, and at the Merce Cunningham Studio, modern dance.
Since poetry lies at the foundation of Kathak technique, repertoire and performance practice, Janaki has acquired facility in many of the major languages and dialects of North India, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Braj and Maithili. She was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the Fulbright Foundation in 1988/89 to study the poetry of the Kathak dance repertoire, and an American Institute of Indian Studies Language Fellowship to study Hindi in India in 1994. She received her Master of Arts from Columbia University, at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, in May 2000, concluding her academic work with a translation and contextualization of an epic poem by the early twentieth-century Hindi poet Jayshankar Prasad. While studying at Columbia, she first encountered We Sinful Women in a literature class taught by Prof. Gauri Viswanathan.
Co-founder of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends in 1978, Janaki has performed both classical Kathak and her own choreography throughout the United States, Canada and India at venues including Lincoln Center and Asia Society in New York City, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Premier Dance Theatre in Toronto, the Indian International Center in New Delhi, the Bindadin Maharaj Rangmanch in Lucknow, U.P., India and the Srinathji Mandir in Nathadwara, Rajasthan, India.
The Kathak Ensemble & Friends and its arts-in-education unit, CARAVAN, communicate the richness of Indian culture through its arts, most specifically through the classical North Indian dance style Kathak, its storytelling techniques (katha) and its accompanying Hindustani music. The Ensemble creates its own innovative repertoire, in which Kathak interacts with familiar American arts forms, demystifying unique details of Indian culture and engaging audience members in a journey of the imagination, revealing exotic other-ness as a variation on the common theme of human-ness.