Spilling Ink is a multi-arts organization that has a mission to interpret, create, perform, and present performing, visual and literary arts of India and the diaspora. Through its interdisciplinary approach, the organization seeks to educate participants and engage audiences to deepen and enhance their understanding of India's artistic and cultural contributions in the United States and around the world.
We founded Spilling Ink more than nine years ago in 2007, the namesake of our inaugural project, Alekhya: Spilling Ink, which premiered in November 2007 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Chennai. Since, we have developed an approach to creating ideas for new projects while keeping in mind the principles and fundamentals of visual art and design. Each idea is not only viewed as a performance, but one that is fueled by the energy of several disciplines, including classical Indian dance and music, along with literary thought and visual expression. The driver of all projects is based on the following ideas, which laid the foundation for Alekhya: Spilling Ink:
Our portfolio includes solo, duet and group projects: Alekhya: Spilling Ink, Samhita: Conversations in Dance, Mahashakti, Godavari, Ardhanareeswara, Vishnu Maya: Blue Illusion, and Vishala: Expanse. Collaborations include Samudra: Churning Oceans (with Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance), and Deflect Our Light: Articulate a Dance (with Bharatanatyam and classical Russian ballet dance). The content of each project varies greatly, but a recurring theme in our work is taking an approach to choreography that prominently considers individualism within such religious performing art traditions—both classical Indian music and dance. In some instances, projects re-examine classical and traditional repertoire, reinterpreting and engaging in a dialogue with the lyrics to arrive in a different context. Part of our focus is also to engage viewers in the process by which we attain answers to our questions that steer a particular project. The foundation for every project, nonetheless, is based in classical Indian dance and music--namely South Indian classical Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dance forms, and South Indian classical Carnatic music
Sample our projects through images and videos in the Portfolio section of the website.
Education and Outreach
We frequently present education and outreach programs at schools, community centers, and colleges and universities. Programs center on classical Indian dance and music, while also speaking to India's rich history and culture. For many years, Spilling Ink was on the roster of Class Acts Arts in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and Gateway to the Arts in Southwestern Pennsylvania, having reached thousands of students and other participants through our acclaimed Katha: Tales of India program.
In 2014, we conducted a year-long project at Seton Hill University (Greensburg, PA) in which we taught students the fundamentals of Bharatanatyam. In the second half of the partnership, we co-choreographed a piece, When Two Rivers Meet, with Seton Hill University faculty members Tamara Swank and Stefan Zubal. The textual basis for the collaboration was Satya Palaparty's poem, Dancing on the River Ganges.
Another part of our education and outreach efforts includes working with dancers who are looking for opportunities to work on Bharatanatyam technique, and to also build repertoire. Currently the class meets in the evening on a weekly basis. Contact us for more information.
Healing through Dance
We firmly believe that the creative arts can be an avenue to improve the quality of life for all human beings. That is evident to us first-hand as creators and viewers of art. It is part of Spilling Ink's goal to share theoretical- and experience-based perspectives on the incredible potential of arts-based therapies. The value that is offered by the creative arts therapies can be a positive avenue to explore as an option to help individuals with mental illness. And in a country like India, which boasts such respect and reverence for all kinds of arts—whether it’s music, dance or painting—there is great potential to advance the mental health field even further. Spearheaded by Nalini Prakash, it is the organization’s work to host discussions and conversations to engage participants in a dialogue.
In 2014, we included a conversation event titled, Dance to Heal: Light the Mind. Exploring Creative Approaches to Mental Illness, as part of our Vishala: Expanse tour to South India in February and March 2014, garnering much attention in radio, television, print and online media outlets. Additionally, the Embassy of India (Washington, DC) hosted such an event in June 2014.
We invite anyone who is interested to this discussion—a sharing—that would allow us to explore the potential to further help the breathing and living 'mind' of India. We strongly feel that through increased public awareness, education and outreach about mental health, individuals’ perspectives can change—care providers can be further equipped to meet the needs of individuals requiring healing. And through partnerships and collaboration, alternative therapies—such as the creative arts therapies including dance/movement, music and art—can find even stronger impact in India.