Past Events:


11/23/19:  Journey to the Heart of the Iraqi Maqam 

10/27/19: WDF: Dancing Across Cultural Borders

6/23/19: Drums Along the Hudson

4/28/19: World Dance Passport

3/25/19: Lotus's 30th Anniversary

10/14/18: World Dance Festival 

08/02/18: Barefoot Dancing in the Park: Salsa

07/26/18: Barefoot Dancing in the Park - Sufi





Journey to the Heart of the Iraqi Maqam 





Robert Browning Associates & Lotus Music & Dance in partnership with Brooklyn Maqam  present
Saturday, November 23, 2019 8:00 PM                 

​Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue at 3rd Avenue
Downtown Brooklyn  | tel. 917-267-0363

The Iraqi maqam (melodic mode), one of Iraq’s richest cultural offerings, features sophisticated melodies, infectious rhythms, and eloquent poetry. Hamid Al-Saadi, Iraq’s foremost exponent of this centuries-old tradition, is renowned for his powerful voice and highly ornamented style, as well as his comprehensive knowledge of the intricate details of the music and poetry of Iraq. He studied with the legendary Yusuf Omar, who named Al-Saadi as his successor. Muhammed Al-Gubbenchiwho taught Omar and was probably the most influential maqam reciter in history, said that he considered Al-Saadi to be the "ideal link to pass on the maqam to future generations." Al-Saadi is the only person from his generation to have memorized and mastered all 56 maqamat from the Baghdad repertoire, and is one of the few vocalists to keep this maqam alive today. 

He is joined by Safaafir, the only US-based ensemble dedicated to performing the Iraqi maqam in its traditional format. The group is led by Amir ElSaffar (santur-zither) and Dena El Saffar (violin, joza - bowed lute) of Iraqi descent and features Tim Moore on percussion.




Lotus Music & Dance in partnership with Robert Browning Associates presents

World Dance Festival: Dancing Across Cultural Borders

Sunday, October 27th 2019 at 4pm

at Manhattan Movement Arts Center 248 West 60th St. NY, NY

Tickets: $20 students/seniors, $25 general admission ONLINE at or call 1-212-627-1076


The fourth annual World Dance Festival: Dancing Across Cultural Borders will take place on Sunday, October 27t at 4pm at the Manhattan Movement Arts Center, 248 West 60th St. between 10th and 11th Aves. This event is presented by Lotus Music & Dance in partnership with Robert Browning Associates with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


World Dance Festival: Dancing Across Cultural Borders will feature Dancing Crane Georgian Dance Ensemble and Sonali Skandan/Jiva Dance (Bharata Natyam, South Indian Dance), accompanied by live music.

The festival will take place on Sunday, October 27th at 4pm at Manhattan Movement Arts Center,

248 West 60th St.  Pre-performance discussions and demonstrations will provide information on the cultural context and technique of the art form.

Brooklyn’s  Dancing Crane Georgian Dance Ensemble brings together soloists from the world’s leading Georgian dance companies, “Sukhishvili”, “Rustavi”, “Erisioni” and “Fire of Anatolia”, to present a spectacular program of the dance traditions from the country of Georgia. Georgian dance rivals classic ballet in its demanding and refined technique, but has a style all its own. Performers excel in the virtuoso leaps, turns and especially the traditional, tseruli, or men's dancing on the toes. The repertoire includes Parikaoba mountain dances with swords, the elegant Osuri court dances, the ancient Samaya women's dance, the city dances of the Kinto and Karachokheli, the refined women's dances with elegant hand movements including Jeirani and Mukhambazi, as well as the regional folk dances such as those from Acharia and Svaneti. The music, played on traditional folk instruments is based on ancient modes which helps distinguish the dances as among the most beautiful in the world. Songs and music represent all traditional Georgian genres, including folk music in the various local regional styles, church songs, city songs, romances and contemporary estrada, as well as, songs from the Georgian classic and opera repertoire.


Jiva Dance is a critically acclaimed dance company based in NYC, under the artistic direction of Sonali Skandan, which sees the importance of preserving and promoting the traditional arts, yet also understands the need to incorporate innovative techniques to reach diverse audiences. Jiva Dance holds the belief that tradition is a continuum of evolution and hopes to invigorate classical works with a freshness and unique voice. Jiva Dance strives to present work that is inclusive, allowing those who do not have a background in. We are not tied to Bharatanatyam’s cultural specificity, but are open to creating work that reflects who we are living in a diverse urban environment. And though the art is ancient, we feel the vocabulary of movement and expression has the ability to transcend time and culture. The Company creates original works with modern themes, and re energizes classical pieces to incorporate innovative light design, staging and multimedia. We believe that Indian classical dance is a holistic art form, and the art is not fixed but is in fact continually evolving.  Jiva was invited to bring classical Indian dance to the Joffrey Ballet School roster for the first time in its 63-year history. Jiva Dance presented work in major venues in the US, becoming the first Indian Classical dance company to be presented at the prestigious Victory Dance Series at the New Victory Theater, the first Indian Classical company to be part of the CUNY Dance Initiative (2017 and 2018) at Queens College, as well as performing for Juilliard’s new online educational program. Jiva Dance was also featured on NBC Learn, in a short documentary titled “Why We Dance.”  Jiva Dance will be accompanied by stellar music support from a classical Carnatic orchestra.


Lotus Music & Dance is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1989 by master Bharata Natyam dancer Kamala Cesar. It is a center of education for traditional and indigenous performing arts. The mission is to protect, promote and celebrate the music and dance traditions of all world cultures. Lotus Music & Dance is one of the few institutions of its kind in New York City where master artists from India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, the South Pacific, West Africa, Spain and the Mohawk Nation collectively call home. Aside from our varied schedule of unique, multi-cultural performances and festivals, we offer Arts-in-Education programs to K-12 schools throughout the tri-state area. Lotus Music & Dance also presents Manhattan’s only open air pow wow, the annual Drums Along the Hudson: A Native American and Multicultural Celebration.

 For more information please visit or call 212.627.1076











Lotus Music & Dance 30th Anniversary Gala &

T.Balasaraswati Centenary Celebration

Monday, March 25th, 2019


Program at 6PM 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Theatre, 120 West 46th St. NY, NY 10036 

$100 VIP, $25 General Admission (program only)


Benefit Dinner at Utsav Restaurant at 8PM

1185 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10036 (entrance on W46th St.)

Honoring Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President and

George Faison, Tony Award wining-dancer/choreographer

$500 Diamond VIP Lotus, $250 Gold Lotus, $150 Silver Lotus (includes program)



Program at 6PM

The Program will take place at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis HS Theater, will include an evening of guest speakers, performers and a screening of the 1962 Wesleyan documentary, T.Balasarasawti (Bala), in which she performs her signature piece, Krishna Ni Begane Baro. We will acknowledge the lifelong dedication of Nandini Ramani and Priyamvada Shankar to Bala's legacy. We will also pay tribute to Louise and Sam Scripps who made it possible for Bala to teach and perform here in the United States and Jon B. Higgins whose Ph.D. dissertation has made a major contribution to the understanding of Bala's repertoire. The program emcees will be Anita Ratnam and Rajika Puri. The evening will witness the world premiere of Lotus: The Energy Within with special choreography by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir, made especially for this occasion. Performed by Malabika Biswas, Jayanthi Raja Segaran, Harini Srinivasan, and Akhila Konuru. The Many Faces of Bala, new choreography by George Faison, presents the greatest treasure of India, not the Taj Mahal or its sacred cows or a cleansing dip in the Ganges River, but its women. Bala is a national treasure who was renown for her artistry and tradition in the music, dance and storytelling tradition of Bharata Natyam, one of the many forms of dance theater that carry the cultural legacy of a people who have overcome through nonviolent confrontation and human sacrifice to gain freedom in the rich heritage of South Indian dance. There are many stories like our own to tell. Performed by Kukokee Das, Yamini Kalluri, Sneha Bolisetty, Jeeno Joseph, and Deepti Nagendra. 


Benefit Dinner at 8PM 

The Benefit Dinner will take place at Utsav Restaurant, where Gale Brewer and George Faison will be honored and a festive dance presentation will take place. Special guests will be recognized for their contribution and support of Lotus. The Benefit Dinner will also hold a silent auction, offering unique and beautiful items that represent our multi-cultural institution, including art, photography, specialty restaurants, and events. A Silent Auction Catalog showcasing the wide selection, from Tibetan Thangka Wall Hanging to Navajo and Zuni jewelry is available for viewing in the link below. 


Click Here to view Silent Auction Catalog

For more details, contact us at (212) 627-1076 


T. Balasaraswati (1918-1984) is considered one of India’s greatest Bharata Natyam dancers of the twentieth century. She was the seventh generation in a family that hailed from the Tanjore courts and produced dancers and musicians for some 250 years. Her mother, Jayammal was a great singer and her grandmother, Dhanammal was one of the most celebrated vina players of her time. She was trained by the eminent Kandappa Pillai, who was the great-grandson of Ponniah Pillai of the Tanjore Quartet, the four brothers who were teachers and composers responsible for codifying the Bharata Natyam training and repertoire.


Bala made her arangetram (debut) at the age of seven at the Amanakshi Amman temple at Kancheepuram to an enormous audience which included savants and rasikas (connoisseurs) of Bharata Natyam. She was
introduced to Northern Indian in 1936 by the famed dancer, Uday Shankar. In 1961, she performed at the
East/West Encounter in Tokyo and the following year embarked on a North American and European tour which started at Jacob’s Pillow. Under the auspices of the American Society for Eastern Arts, founded by Luise and Samuel Scripps she was in residence at various institutions from 1962 to1982 including Wesleyan University, UCLA, Mills College, University of Washington, Seattle, The Center for World Music (Berkeley), California Institute of the Arts and the American Dance Festival. Her brothers, T. Viswanathan (flute) and T.Ranganathan (mrdangam) who accompanied her in performance, taught music at Wesleyan University. She received some of the highest awards in her own country including the Presidental Award (1955), the Exemplary Golden Lotus (1977), an honorary degree from the Rabindra Bharati University (1964), elected president of the Madras Music Academy Conference, entitled Musical Treasure (1973) and elected the president of Indian Fine Arts Society Conference with the title Crown Jewel of Musical Art (1981). She was the subject of the documentary film, “Bala”, directed by Satyajit Ray. Balasaraswati’s complete understanding of the inter-relationship of the music and dance in Bharata Natyam along with her gifts and training enabled her to achieve high distinction as both dancer and musician.

Lotus Music & Dance, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1989 by master Bharata Natyam dancer  Kamala Cesar. It is a performance space, sanctuary, and center of education for traditional and indigenous performing arts forms. The mission is to keep alive and accessible the music and dance traditions of all world cultures. Lotus Music & Dance remains the only institution of its kind in New York City, with master artists from India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, the South Pacific, Middle East, the Mohawk Nation, West Africa, and Spain collectively preserving their traditional arts. Aside from our varied schedule of unique, multicultural performances, we offer instruction in traditional ethnic forms of dance and music as well as Arts-In-Education programs to schools throughout the tri-state area. Since 2002,  Lotus Music & Dance has presented Manhattan's only open-air pow wow, the annual  Drums Along the Hudson®: A Native American and Multicultural Celebration


Kamala Cesar, disciple of T. Balasaraswati (Bharata Natyam, South Indian Dance), was born in Brooklyn, NY, and is Native American (Mohawk Tribe) and Filipino. She studied Bharata Natyam (the classical dance of South India) both in the United States and in India, under T. Balasaraswati, Bharata Natyam's legendary and foremost exponent. She is one of the few American disciples carrying on the style of T. Balasaraswati in this country. Ms. Cesar has participated in programs sponsored by the American Society for Eastern Arts, the Center for World Music, Asian Traditions, The American Dance Festival, and Wesleyan University. In 1986, she was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Art Apprenticeship. She has performed extensively in the United States, Europe, and India. Ms. Cesar is the Founder and Artistic Director of Lotus Music & Dance, a not-for-profit organization that since 1989 has been supporting multicultural programs that further the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of traditional arts and the creation of new works that evolve from traditional art forms. She has produced several cross-cultural productions, including The New York Ramayana; Eagle Spirit- A Tribute to the Mohawk High Steelworkers; Message of Peace- An Excerpt from the Peacemaker's Journey; World in The City; Dancing Across Cultural Borders; World Dance Passport; and Lotus - the Energy Within. Since 2002, she has produced Drums Along the Hudson: A Native American Festival and Multicultural Celebration, Manhattan's only open-air Pow Wow celebrating Native American heritage along with world cultures and their traditional dance and drumming.


  Priyamvada Sankar is the first disciple of T. Balasaraswati and K. Ganesan at their school from 1951, established by the Madras Music Academy. Priyamvada was a prime performer of this tradition between 1956-68 in Madras and all major cities of India. She was the first recipient of the Govt. Of India Scholarship for Bharatanatyam Training. Priyamvada, who graduated in Sanskrit with a gold medal from Madras University is widely respected for her scholarship, having studied with her internationally acclaimed Scholar- Father, Dr. V. Raghavan. After moving to Montreal, Canada in 1968, she established her own school for propagating the Balasaraswati dance tradition. In the last 50 years, Priyamvada has trained hundreds of students in North America in this dance legacy and has received extensive acclaim for her performances, teaching, and choreography. For her sustained multi-faceted contribution to the field of arts, the Govt. Of Canada has bestowed on her the award for Multi-Culturalism.  


   Nandini Ramani, a senior disciple of T.Balasaraswati and a Recipient of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from the President of India for her multi-faceted contribution to the field of Bharata Natyam has been groomed by her teachers Bala and K.Ganesan since 1955; she enjoyed an unbroken chain of association with them until their last days. Nandini Ramani has been playing a vital role in preserving, and propagating the Bala tradition not only in India but also in UK, USA, France, Netherlands, and the Gulf Countries, through her performances, workshops, and lecture demonstrations. Her performances under prestigious cultural organizations, Universities, and Conservatories have received wide acclaim. Nandini is well trained in Carnatic Vocal music under Prof.B.Krishnamurti and Vidushi T.Mukta, a cousin of T.Balasaraswati. Nandini's important musical repertoire has been documented by the Department of Ethnomusicology of the University of Utrecht as part of their heritage collection. Nandini, respected as a constructive art critic, has authored five books and many articles on aspects of dance and allied topics on Indian culture & heritage. 


   Kay Poursine studied with T. Balasaraswati from 1972 to 1983 at Mills College in Oakland, California, University of Washington, Seattle, the Center for World Music, Berkeley, American Dance Festival, Duke University and Wesleyan University, CT. Balasaraswati invited her to Madras (Chennai) for private classes with her and her daughter Lakshmi in 1976-77. Kay received her M.A. from Wesleyan University where she also studied music with Balasaraswati's brothers T. Viswanathan and T. Ranganathan. She studied with Bala and Lakshmi in Chennai 1982-83 with the support of the first of three Smithsonian senior fellowships under the auspices of the American Institute for Indian Studies, University of Chicago. Poursine's performances in India received rave reviews. After Balasaraswati's death in 1984, Poursine continued her studies in this family bani (style) with Bala's senior disciple Nandini Ramani in Chennai with the support of two AIIS Senior Fellowships in 1986-87 and 1990-91 and most recently in October 2016.


Bani Ray gave her first performance at the age of 6. She studied Odissi dance under some of the form's most revered gurus, such as Shri Valmiki Banerjee, Guru Durga Charan Ranbir, & the late Guru Shri Nath Raut. Apart from Odissi, she has performed extensively throughout India & abroad & received scholarships, fellowships & various awards for her expertise in the field of dance. As a joint director of Nehru Institute of Odissi Research & Training in Delhi, India, she has organized international seminars, symposia & training programs for aspiring young dancers. She has been an ICCR Panel Artist and New Jersey Arts Council Panel Artist. She is currently performing and doing in-depth research & training on the style & compositions of Guru Shri Deb Prasad Das. In December 2017 she participated in the International Odissi Dance Festival organized by the Odissi Research Center in Orissa. Since 1998 she has taught at Lotus Music & Dance & now also offers Odissi classes at the Indian Consulate.


Anita Ratnam, based in Chennai (Madras), India, is highly respected as a performer, writer, speaker and arts entrepreneur and culture mentor. She has been described as an "intersectionist", whose work weaves the many disciplines of dance, theatre, spoken word, ritual, archaeology, dramaturgy and women's issues. For over 40 years, her distinguished career has witnessed over 1300 performances in 37 countries. Her formal training in Bharata Natyam, Mohiniattam, and Kathakali has given Dr.Ratnam a distinctive movement vocabulary that she has named Neo Bharatam-a contemporary Indian kinetic situated on a mature body. Using voice, singing, Vedic hymns, drumming, contemporary mythology and devised movements, her acclaimed choreographies include Gajaanana, Daughters of the Ocean, Seven Graces, Ma3ka, A Million Sitas, Neelam and Stone.
She was a founding board member of the Balasaraswati School of Music and Dance from 1985 to 1989 and of Lotus Music & Dance from 1989 to 1994. Dr Ratnam served as a member of the Executive Board of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's largest apex body for the performing arts, and the ICCR, India's Government panel to select performers for international tours, a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a voting member of the Dance Critics Association, USA. A Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, Dr.Ratnam was awarded the Presidential Medal in 2016 for her contribution to Contemporary Dance in India. She has served as a distinguished member of several Cultural Committees and convened numerous arts festivals and performance conclaves.


Rajika Puri, trained in Bharata Natyam and Odissi which she performed internationally in solo recital (including a Command Performance for the president of Mexico), Rajika is now known both as danced storyteller (‘Sutradhari Natyam’) and for her performed slide lectures onstage - before shows, and in museums. Much in demand as Narrator/Sutradhar for festivals like Erasing Borders, and Battery Dance’s Downtown Dance Festival, she has been an inventive Sutradhar for Lotus’ own productions, such as the NY Ramayana.
Co-curator - and co-presenter - of several Indian dance festivals in New York, Rajika is also a member of the NY Dance and Performance Awards (‘The Bessies’) Nominations Committee. She owes her cross-cultural/multi-arts perspective to an M.A. (NYU) in the Analysis of Movement Systems Across Cultures and to having studied ballet, modern dance (Graham & Cunningham), flamenco, as well as piano and voice. As an actress, she has been directed in theater and on film - by Julie Taymor, JoAnne Akalaitis, Mira Nair and Norman Renee. Her writings - from reviews to academic articles - have been published online and in print.


Gale Brewer is the 27th Borough President of Manhattan, with a role in deciding land-use and zoning issues in the borough, the appointment of members to the 12 community boards, and the ability to introduce legislation in the City Council. Since she took office in 2014, her bills to reform the deed restriction process and remove criminal history from initial employment applications have been enacted, and her community land use planning groups have addressed development issues at the South Street Seaport and in East Midtown.

Brewer previously served on the New York City Council for 12 years and passed legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, requiring that all City data be published online, and protecting domestic workers from abusive practices--the first such law in the nation.

Brewer earned an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and did her undergraduate work at Columbia University and Bennington College. 

Gale Brewer



George Faison











George W. Faison, DFA, University of Massachusetts and award-winning, internationally celebrated producer, writer, essayist, composer, director, choreographer, and dancer, made history in 1975 when he became the first African American to win a Tony Award of best choreography for The Wiz! Dr. Faison began his career as a principle dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His Broadway career began with the musical Purlie. After leaving the Ailey Company, he formed his own company, the George Faison Universal Dance Experience and went on to create several American dance classics of his own: Slaves, Suite Otis, Gazelle, and Poppie. He has also choreographed and staged concerts for musical greats including Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie Mills and many more. Dr. Faison has directed regional productions at the McCarter Theater, Princeton NJ, Center Stage in Baltimore, the Kennedy Center, the Pittsburg Public and the Public Theater in NY. Dr. Faison is also the author of several musicals: Apollo, It Was Just Like Magic which starred Morgan Freeman, Clarice Taylor, and S. Epatha Merkerson, Sing Mahalia Sing with Jennifer Holiday; If This Hat Could Talk, based on the life of Dorothy I. Height and most recently, Bah Humbug From the Notorious E.B. Scrooge based on A Christmas Carol. His film credits include Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Cotton Club, Driving Me Crazy, and the Josephine Baker Story.

In 2000, Dr. Faison, along with co-founder Tad Schnugg, established The Faison Firehouse Theater in a decommissioned Firehouse in Harlem which was branded “Hollywood in Harlem” by the media. The Faison Firehouse Theater is a 130 seat venue which “is a full service, digitally advanced performing arts and cultural center complete with a fine arts gallery, rehearsal facilities, and a cabaret theater. He is a co-producer/artistic director of the critically acclaimed City-Wide Summerstage Harlem Dance Caravan at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Marcus Garvey Park. In 1999, he created The Firehouse Respect Project, a youth empowerment troupe for community outreach which continues today. Mr. Faison recently co-produced the 10 anniversary gala of The History Makers: An Evening with Valerie Simpson in Honor of Nick Ashford and directed Steppin’ Out of the Negro Caravan at Howard University. His current season will include three premiers of Noa Ain’s multi-generational chamber jazz opera, Trio, Bitch, a series of monologues by Datra Martindale and Kim Williams, The Timeless Language of James Baldwin with Avery Books, On Common Ground, men and women facing the facts about domestic violence, Stepping Out of the Negro Caravan, African-American literature and the American Experience and a multimedia installation called Harlem, Virtually Yours! a tourist attraction. Dr. Faison has recently directed and choreographed The Wiz 40 Anniversary Celebration a co-production with Summerstage in Central Park. Mr. Faison is currently producing and directing a new musical entitled Whitney Houston: The Last Interview


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