To create hybrid choreographic works through rigorous experimentation in form and concept. To evolve our beloved traditions of dance, music, and theater in service of our current reality and the emotional and political needs of our times. To challenge social and mental constructs that underlie nationalism, xenophobia, and fundamentalism through artistic practices that build bridges across cultural, linguistic, and political boundaries.
Artist Statement (video 5 min)
India-born, U.S.-raised choreographer/dancer Parijat Desai creates hybrids of contemporary and Indian classical dance, martial art, theater, and other forms. The New York Times has said Parijat “moves with lush attack” and called her work “a seamless blending of new and old.” Parijat (BA, Stanford University, anthropology with honors; MFA, UCLA, choreography) began her company in Los Angeles in 2000, then continued in New York City 2004–2013. Since then, she been developing independent projects with diverse collaborators.
Parijat is ever seeking ways to build bridges across movement languages—“a rejoinder, both physical and verbal, to the sentiment” (NYT) of xenophobia. In recent projects like her solo O.O.F. (studies in the opposite of fear) and her ensemble work JustLikeThat/Maya, Parijat explores language and movement. She also has created site-based choreography at Islamic heritage sites in New Delhi, India (The Palace Is Dreaming, forthcoming short film), at Ahmedabad's modernist ATMA Building designed by Le Corbusier (Passage). She has developed participatory protest choreography (Freedom. Safety. NOW.) and socially engaged works like her meditation After Oak Creek following the attacks on the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI.
Core to Parijat's work is a love of music. Parijat has frequently collaborated with musicians experimenting within and outside of Carnatic and Hindustani music traditions, including several members of Brooklyn Raga Massive. In these interactions, she brings a commitment to understanding music through self-study and direct dialogue with music artists.
Parijat was awarded a Summer 2018 rehearsal residency through CUNY Dance Initiative. She has also been an artist-in-residence through Movement Research (2016–17), Tribeca Performing Arts Center (2009–12), and Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts (2009). She has been awarded artistic residencies through Colorado College (2017), the Fulbright/Nehru India Program (2013–14), Dance Center/Columbia College (2013), Skirball Cultural Center/LA (2007), and Queens Museum/Dance in Queens (2005). Parijat has received commissions from Grand Performances (LA), Danspace Project, and Harlem Stage. She won the Lester Horton Dance Award for Individual Performance, and NYFA BUILD, LMCC Creative Communities Grant, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, and Arts International Grant. She was nominated for a 2019 United State Artists Fellowship.
Parijat’s work has been presented at venues including La Mama, Danspace Project, Asia Society, Queens Museum, PS122, and PioneerWorks (NYC); Skirball Cultural Center, California Plaza, and J. Paul Getty Center (LA); ODC Theater and Asian Art Museum (San Francisco); Denver Art Museum; Northwestern University (Chicago); The Dance Centre (Vancouver); and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Mumbai).
Parijat teaches contemporary dance and contemporary bharata natyam, and leads Dance In The Round, workshops for all ages based on Garba and Raas, circle dances from Gujarat, India. She has taught at various colleges and school and at studios including Mark Morris Dance Center and Peridance. She has also taught actors through Theater Mitu New York Artist Intensive and Cornerstone Theater (LA). in September 2018, Parijat will teach an intensive through Stanford University in New York.