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Urban Nritta

Jiva Dance's first short film, Urban Nritta (pronounced: nrit-thah), presents classical Bharatanatyam dance against the backdrop of New York City. Nritta is the expression of rhythm through the body in dance, and in this setting we express the rhythms of Indian classical dance and music as well as the beat of the city where we live and create.

The piece we perform is “Into the Battlefield,” excerpted from our original work “Mayura: Blue Peacock.” This scene depicts the dance of the mighty peacock, the vehicle of the Lord Murugan, as it prepares to go into battle.

Jiva Dance produces living, breathing classical art for our time and place, in harmony with the rhythms of New York City.

  • Jesse Newman
  • Sonali Skandan
  • Jiva Performing Arts
  • Athena Tapales and Giri Devulapally
  • Ramya and Nandu Narayanan
  • Arpana Golapalli
  • Hans Deyssenroth
  • Sonali Skandan
    Key Cast
    "Dancer. Choreographer, Concept Designer"
  • Njideka Emenogu
    Key Cast
  • Maya Kappil
    Key Cast
  • Poulomi Das
    Key Cast
  • Kumari Mayshark Patel
    Key Cast
  • Kaela Hill
    Production Design
  • Kennisha Clayton
  • Sonali Skandan
  • Rajkumar Bharathi
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 6, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • NY Indian Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    May 3, 2017
    North American Preniere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Jiva Performing Arts
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Jesse Newman

Jesse is a filmmaker living in Brooklyn, New York. He has a passion for directing – though he's often wearing many hats as a cinematographer, editor and music composer for his own work. His ambitions are aimed at short and feature narrative films, but he continues to build on his skill set by creating music videos and brand videos in the meantime.

He values unique storytelling above all else, giving him a style that’s recognizable across all his projects, attracting clients such as Google and Concord Music Group. Jesse’s ongoing collaboration with branding agencies has lead to distinguished brand videos for organizations such as Pepsi Co., HARMAN, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Director Statement

The craft of capturing dance on film is a process that I’ve always been drawn to. So when Sonali Skandan and Jiva Dance approached me with the concept of showcasing her beautifully choreographed classical performance with New York’s cityscapes, I saw an exciting opportunity. Then began a special collaboration between myself, Sonali and Kaela Hill (production design).

Together, we carefully selected locations with the aim to bring justice to NYC’s diverse and monumental environments. I utilized primarily wide angle visuals to highlight the interplay between the urban backdrops and classical dancers, as well as drifting camera movement to enhance a sense of scale. It’s easy to become captivated by Sonali’s fantastic choreography and team of superbly talented dancers, so the process of combining them with the iconic sights of Manhattan and Brooklyn was a unique delight.