In a world where many native cultural forms are dying, Sunnyvale-based Prayukti Arts tries to preserve the artistic heritage of South Asia.
“Prayukti Arts is an organization that aims to create a space for South Asian arts, particularly the Bharatanatyam dance form, in the Bay Area,” said Nitya Narasimhan, the organization’s artistic director.
Narasimhan founded Prayukti in 2022.
“The inspiration to found this organization came from my personal passion as an artist and practitioner of Bharatanatyam, and my desire to provide a platform for like-minded individuals to come together and cultivate a community,” Narasimhan said.
“With Prayukti, my vision is to create a space that prioritizes the arts while also fostering human connections,” she added. “I am passionate about promoting authentic South Asian art forms, especially in light of the current challenges of preserving traditional art forms.
“We honor the rich history and traditions of the past by thoughtfully bringing them into the present, to collectively imagine and create a better future for the next generation of artists,” Narasimhan added.
To Narasimhan, art is something that goes beyond the barriers produced by differences in language, social status or background.
“I believe that art has the potential to transcend language, culture, and background,” said Narasimhan. “I am committed to creating a space that is inclusive and welcoming to all.
“We have a variety of initiatives and programs that invite artists, students of the arts, and audience members from all backgrounds to participate,” Narasimhan continued.
The organization has numerous approaches to preserve, and spread awareness of, South Asian art.
“Our artistic initiatives aim to provide opportunities for artists at various stages of their careers, from emerging artists looking for performance opportunities to seasoned professionals seeking resources and students requiring expert mentorship,” Narasimhan explained. “We are also excited to launch a residency program soon, inviting movement-based artists across disciplines to participate.”
Prayukti also offers Bharatanatyam classes, which include yoga and cultural awareness. Moreover, Narasimhan has conducted lectures on the “Essence of Indian Arts,” which have been presented in libraries and yoga centers throughout the Bay Area.
Prayukti Arts also organizes community programs open to the general public, including annual yoga sessions, book discussions and other events.
“By engaging with the community in these ways, we hope to increase awareness and appreciation of South Asian arts in the Sunnyvale and Santa Clara region,” said Narasimhan.
Currently, Prayukti is devoted mainly to the dance forms of South Asia, especially Bharatanatyam.
“In my opinion, dance is the primary focus of Prayukti because there is a dearth of organizations that nurture South Asian dance in the South Bay,” said Narasimhan.
“As someone who practices Bharatanatyam, my primary audience currently consists of fellow practitioners of this art form,” she said. “As Prayukti is still in its inaugural year, I aim to gradually expand our community and programs over time.”
Narasimhan, an immigrant, feels a bond not only with the community of artists that welcomed her in the Bay Area, but also with her homeland.
“A huge part of me is deeply rooted in the values and culture from where I came, and I continue to visit India every year to soak in this aspect,” Narasimhan said.
Besides dance, the art of sympathizing with members of the community is something Prayukti Arts does not forget.
“We believe that empathy is crucial to building a safe and welcoming creative space,” Narasimhan said. “We are committed to connecting with each of our community members at a personal level, learning and serving their individual needs in our common creative space.”
For more details about classes and upcoming events in Sunnyvale, visit the Prayukti Arts website.