International dancer and choreographer Reba Browne — the force behind many leading South Asian dance companies across the continents — specializes in kathak, semi-classical and Bollywood dance styles. This dancing diva from Delhi has been seen creating her magic at almost every event, festival and production promoting South Asian culture.
Trained in Kathak since the age of 7, Reba’s performances are packed with graceful movements, mesmerizing footwork and swift pirouettes. She calls them semi-classical or Indian contemporary dance styles. The sharp yet fluid movements synchronised with deft and brisk spins, unleash a visual splendour onstage; taking the audiences on a spiritual journey. Kathak figures among one of the major classical dance forms in India and is the only classical dance form from northern India, from where Reba hails.
Reba’s work as a choreographer, performer and dancer educator began decades ago in India. But what inspired her to share the cultural significance of Indian dance? Reba says, “During a performance in New York, a dancer misspoke about the origin of kathak to an entire audience. Initially I was horrified. But soon I realized that the cultural knowledge I received since I was a child is filtered down by the time it reaches a global audience. Of course much information is available online nowadays. But to only those who make an effort to research. What about those students or audience members who will take your word at face value? What about those who cannot travel to India to learn more about the culture? Since that day, this has been my mission. I am not a mere performer or a choreographer. I am an educator. Every step, each detail, every movement carries years of training and wisdom from my gurus. I am honored to have the opportunities to share it while I represent Indian dance and culture in an authentic and professional way.”
Reba is an expert in all major Indian dance styles, starting her training at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in New Delhi. Her original work has been presented at the Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Museum, and the United Nations. In addition she has travelled around the states giving lecture-demonstrations and sharing Indian dance education programs at schools and colleges like Lock Haven University, PA, Clarion University, PA and Ramapo College, NJ.
Among other productions for the Spring, Reba is currently spearheading a Holi showcase in the city. Holi – an Indian festival that has been celebrated since ancient times – is celebrated as a way to welcome in spring, and also is seen as a new beginning where people can release all their inhibitions and start fresh. “Holi is my favorite festival. The message of Holi is one of unity and inclusion, which resonates with everyone today,” she says. Reba serves as the perfect example of the impact that one person can make on a large and diverse community.