Natya Dance Theatre (NDT), under the artistic leadership of Hema Rajagopalan, is amongst the most critically acclaimed and culturally treasured Indian dance companies in the United States. The professional dance company was founded in 1994 and is based in Chicago, IL. The highly innovative work of NDT offers profound and subtle expressions of humanity's deepest questions and values in the context of our present-day lives. Rooted in Bharata Natyam, one of the great classical dance theater forms of India, NDT preserves and perpetuates Bharata Natyam in all its rigor, and moves the art form in innovative directions with contemporary sensibilities to foster cultural exchange through dance. NDT's performances incorporate dynamic body movement, rhythmic footwork, hand gestures and facial expressions to convey meaning and emotion that create 'rasa', aesthetic experiences that spiritually transform audiences worldwide.
Audiences and critics worldwide have recognized the artistic excellence of the NDT Company, which The New York Times hailed as, "Triumphant...an enticing mixture of restraint and abundance" Recent celebrated performance highlights include: performances with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble before an audience of 13,000 in Chicago's Millennium Park; NDT was the first US company ever to appear at the prestigious World Music Institute in New York City; and serving as the only dance company selected to create an original work for performance at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
NDT is a six-time recipient of the Chicago Reader "Critic's Choice." In 2003, NDT was the first Indian dance company to receive the prestigious Chicago Dance Award, and is a 2004 recipient of the Paul Berger Arts Entrepreneurship Award from Columbia College Chicago. NDT was featured in 2005 in The Chicago Dance Project, a 13-part series produced by PBS, and in 2006 in Arts Across Illinois CenterStage on WTTW Channel 11, and in a 1994 PBS production, World Stage Chicago, for which Hema Rajagopalan received an Emmy award.