When Eyes Speak: Space, Place, and Ancestry

When Eyes Speak, San Francisco’s first South Asian Choreography Festival, today announced its fourth season, presenting a Radical History Walking Tour in the Mission District and the performance of a World Premiere work by Choreographer Joti Singh, entitled Ghadar Geet, at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco.  This year’s theme, “Space, Place, and Ancestry,” pays homage to the vastness of the term choreography within the South Asian diaspora.  The Radical History Walking Tour of the Mission helps locate Singh’s performance by traversing audiences through the spaces we have and continue to occupy, identifying the deep,radical, and sometimes painful histories of South Asians here in San Francisco.  The tour is led by Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee who are renowned for their venture of a similar name in Berkeley.  Following the tour, Duniya Dance and Drum performs Ghadar Geet created by Artistic Director Singh, who undertakes the personal journey of tracing her great grandfather’s own radical South Asian history here in the Bay Area as part of the Ghadar party, which opposed the British occupation of India.


The walking tour and performances are Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13 with the Radical History Walking Tour at 5:30pm and the performance at 7pm, and a 2pm Walking Tour on Sunday, May 14 followed by a 4pm performance.  Tickets are $30-$50 and are available at https://wheneyesspeak202.eventbrite.com.


When Eyes Speak is San Francisco’s first South Asian Choreography Festival founded in 2018 and aimed at showcasing the wide range of South Asian movement forms in San Francisco.  As a response to the essentialization of dance in the diaspora, Director/Curator Ramaprasad, along with Shruti Abhishek and Sri Thina, created a platform that has thus far presented works of Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, contemporary Indian, theatre, fusion, and others.  When Eyes Speak has collaborated with Safehouse Arts, American Conservatory Theater, Dhvani Performing Arts, among others.  

Formed in April 2007, Duniya Dance and Drum Company creates dance and music from Punjab, India, and Guinea, West Africa, as well as unique blends of these forms and beyond. The word duniya means “world” in a wide array of languages, including Punjabi, Arabic, Susu and Wolof. Duniya’s work embodies this word, as it explores the forces that have brought together the members of the company and their dance and drum styles, including, but not limited to, colonization, globalization, immigration, art, dance, music and love.

Link:  https://www.duniyadance.com/

@duniyadanceanddrum on Instagram

The Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour is based on Anirvan Chatterjee and Barnali Ghosh's work doing oral history, archival research, and active engagement with historical research in the field. The tour shares these histories with a wider community, to inform, ground, and inspire new activism, in the tradition of movement historians like Zinn and Takaki. In addition to the tour, Ghosh and Chatterjee organized for the naming of Kala Bagai Way in downtown Berkeley, curated two spinoff art shows, run a blog featuring stories from their research, and created a visual guide to South Asian and African American solidarity history. They currently work with Bay Area Solidarity Summer, Walk Bike Berkeley, the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, and the Berkeley Reimagining Public Safety Task Force.

Founder, Director, Curator Preethi Ramaprasad (she/her) is a multifaceted dancer, musician, and researcher. She has toured and taught Bharatanatyam, a form of South Indian dance, in India, Europe, and the United States. She co-curates the "Varnam Salon.” Ramaprasad's work has been funded by and earned accolades from: Gluck Fellowship, Zellerbach Family Foundation, American Conservatory Theater ArtShare Fellowship, SAFEhouse Arts Lead Artist Fellowship, All-Rounder Yuva Kala Bharati for Young Artists, Guru Sanjukta Panigrahi Award, and the National YoungArts Scholarship. Ramaprasad is a doctoral candidate in Critical Dance Studies at UC Riverside. Her research focuses on representation and the performance of myth among transnational Bharatanatyam practitioners.



Co-Curator Shruti Abhishek
(she/her) Shruti Abhishek is an Indian dancer, choreographer, and teacher practicing Bharatanatyam. In 2018, Abhishek founded Kshetram, a holistic, intergenerational dance institution based in Livermore and Pleasanton, CA. In addition to her own company and solo performances, she is a Principal dancer, Creative Coach, and Rehearsal Director at Nava Dance Theatre, founded by Nadhi Thekkek. Abhishek co-curates two festivals: Varnam Salon (supported by the California Arts Council Local Impact Grant), which is a series of performances by California-based senior art practitioners, mid-career artists, and upcoming dancers, and When Eyes Speak. 




Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee are long-time Bay Area activists and community-based historians who have been involved in over a dozen South Asian American social justice, feminist, LGBTQ+, environmental, and arts groups and campaigns. The Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour is based on their work doing oral history, archival research, and active engagement with historical research in the field. The tour shares these histories with a wider community, to inform, ground, and inspire new activism, in the tradition of movement historians like Zinn and Takaki.  

Walking Tour: www.BerkeleySouthAsian.org

Anirvan Chatterjee: www.chatterjee.net@anirvan on Twitter

Barnali Ghosh: www.barnali.com@berkeleywali on Instagram

Joti Singh is a dance creator and innovator, sprung from the U.S. American south to parents from northern India. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. Singh began her dance training in Punjabi circles, carrying through her body the culture that’s in her blood and memory. As an adult, West African dance entered her purview, transforming her. Through this multilingual body, Singh explores where history intertwines with contemporary continuities of celebration and injustice. She created the performance Half and Halves, about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California with collaborator Zenon Barron. She also choreographed for Michael Franti's Once A Day video. Singh has received support from the Creative Work Fund, the San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, and more.  Singh and her partner, musician Bongo Sidibe, lead bi-annual trips to Guinea and in 2012, opened the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Conakry. She teaches Bhangra all over the SF Bay Area, including at Dance Mission Theater. Singh founded the World Dance program at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in 2016. She holds an MA in South Asian Studies from UC Berkeley and a BA in English from Reed College.

May 12, 2023 at 5:00pm - 7pm
Dance Mission Theatre and Mission District
3316 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
United States
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