"As I remember, Aditi was never satisfied with just the technique or the kinetics of dance. She wanted to explore - the space around her, the energy as a driving force, the innumerable patterns forming kaleidoscopic extensions, the colours, moods and just about everything. Her concerns were of larger images outside her own little frail being."
Shrimati Kumudini Lakhia, Aditi's guru, an eminent kathak guru and choreographer
In the final moments of Majid Majidi's 2001 film Baran, a young wastrel-turned-activist hero watches as the love of his life, an Afghan refugee in Iran, departs for her homeland. Though he is never to see her again, his love for her has been truly transformative.... As she walks away amid falling rain, the camera cuts to a close-up of the girl's slowly dissolving footprint in the grey-brown slush. Something about a solo even ning performance by Aditi Mangaldas.... evoked for me this exquisitely ephemeral image in Baran, signalling perhaps hope, perhaps despair, perhaps solace for pain, now here, now gone. Mangaldas traversed the space between temporality and transcendence, invoking the ghosts of bhakti and sufi poets past, straddling the line between contemporary and classical Kathak in the process.
Akhila Ramnarayan, Shruti, Sept. 3, 2012 (Dance India Asia Pacific Festival, Singapore)
Aditi Mangaldas is a leading dancer and choreographer in the classical Indian dance form of Kathak. With extensive training under the leading gurus of Kathak, Shrimati Kumudini Lakhia and Pandit Birju Maharaj, Aditi is today recognised for her artistry, technique, eloquence and characteristic energy that mark every performance.
Besides dancing and choreographing classical productions, (which represent a major part of her work), she has attempted to brake new ground by using her knowledge and experience of Kathak as a springboard to evolve a contemporary dance vocabulary, infused with the spirit of the classical.
Her solo performances and group ensembles, both traditional and contemporary, have received critical acclaim at leading festivals all over the world.
"Unlike most classical Indian performers, I don't belong to a family of dancers. My family has business people on one side, and intellectuals of philosophy and the sciences on the other. But my desire to dance and create dance was born out of an atmosphere of freedom, an ambience in which ideas and imaginations were encouraged to flow and flower.
I first started dancing with Shrimati Kumudini Lakhia, one of the pioneers of contemporary innovations based on kathak and among India's leading choreographers. I learnt from her the essence of dance, the courage to be free and fearless, the ability to understand the relation of my body to the space that surrounds me. From my second guru, Shri Birju Maharaj, the scion of the traditional kathak family and India's greatest kathak maestro, I learnt to love dance as though it were human, to feel its all-encompassing beauty, to centre myself within my body.
Traditional or contemporary... there has never been a contradiction between the two in my mind. I look at the ancient dance form of kathak with a modern mind. I work with the dynamism of kathak, and strengthen it with the yoga spine. I believe that kathak is not a tether that holds me back, but a deep root from which I draw the strength to grow, to explore new forms, and use the past to create a language of the future. Like people who roam the world to explore its remotest corners and hope to fathom what lies beyond the earth, the solar system, the universe, I have a wanderlust. I love to travel through my body and my mind, and to let these parts travel through different parts of space, to explore new places, new routes, divergent avenues. Is it possible to watch the space within oneself, just as you watch the space outside?"
Aditi Mangaldas is the choreographer and principal dancer of the Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company - The Drishtikon Dance Foundation.