About Bhaskar's Academy

Who We Are

Bhaskar’s Arts Academy is a Singapore-based Indian classical dance, music and theatre company. The Academy steadfastly believes in contributing to the vibrant arts scene in Singapore, and performs three to four seasons annually. While committed to the sophistication of traditional techniques and philosophy, the Academy also gives credence to the innovative spirit of cross-cultural explorations. It is constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional Indian dance in local and international performances through a uniquely evolving style reflective of the Bhaskar's legacy as well as the multicultural Singaporean identity.

Some notable works include the Chinese folk tale Butterfly Lovers (1958 & 2021) and the Thai mythological story Manohra (1996 & 2018). Local poems in different languages were set to Indian dance in Rasa & Dhwani (2003). More recently, the Academy is talked about for People Get Connected (2006 & 2021), which depicted human communication through the ages; CHAKRA (2012), the first traditional Indian dance production to incorporate sand art; XPressions (2013), where music and dance shared centrestage; and the Marabu trilogy (2019, 2021 & 2022) which traced the passage and legacy of the Indian community in the Southeast Asian region.

The Academy has also plays a pivotal role in promoting the ancient art form of Kathakali in Singapore. Formed in 2002, the Academy’s Kathakali Troupe produces innovative, cross-cultural works to expand the traditional repertoire and appeal to new audiences in a cosmopolitan age. In this vein, the troupe has staged Cherita Singapura (2003) and Lady Spiders (2006) with Malay and Mandarin lyrics respectively. A Kathakali twist was also given to the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear (2009). The troupe continues to produce traditional works in Malayalam as well as explorative works both locally and internationally.

 



Our Management

Artistic Director, BAA

Meenakshy Bhaskar

Mission

To create, produce, present and promote Indian (South Asian) dance, music and theatre performances
• that are ingrained in our uniquely evolving style of art-making and reflective of the Singapore spirit and its multiculturalism
• while being rooted in traditional techniques and philosophy
• to domestic and international audiences



History & Timeline

Established in 1952, when the late Mr KP Bhaskar first stepped foot in Singapore, the Academy remains one of the longest standing providers of classical Indian performing arts in Singapore. Take a look at our timeline to get a glimpse of our vibrant past!

2021

BAA opens the year with People Get Connected 2.0 to a much-anticipated live audience. The second act of Santha Bhaskar's Marabu trilogy Marabu - The Forgotten Sentinels enjoys four full house shows. Meenakshy Bhaskar reimagines the 1958 classic Butterfly Lovers, incorporating Chinese movements and music, which plays at Victoria Theatre, the venue of the original staging.

BAA's Bhaskareeyam Festival goes online reaching audiences near and far. Santha Bhaskar and BAA collaborate with technological partners in Traditional Arts Digital Exhibition, an immersive digital experience. Santha Bhaskar is also invited to lead Dissemination Everywhere! - an audio experience project with German collective LIGNA for Esplanade's da:ns festival.

2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic at it's peak, many of BAA's performances are cancelled or postponed. However, BAA quickly pivoted to the online platform and successfully presented Dasha TanMatra (10 Subtle Elements), featuring 10 different digital projects comprising dance and music programmes, a webinar, projects celebrating the healthcare workers and the migrant community and many more. BAA went on to be commissioned for other digital works such as Prati Sandhi and Life In A Cloud Digital Playbook. Many of BAA's Arts in Education programmes move to the digital arena.

The curtains opened again with Pulary - An Auspicious Dawn which was a pilot programme with live audiences. 

2019

BAA kickstarts the year with a two-day Kathakali Festival with revered artistes from India alongside BAA's Kalamandalam Biju and senior disciples. Senior choreographer Ambujah Thiru restages Kutrala Kuravanji and Swathi Orchestra is invited to perform for Esplanade's In Youthful Company series as well as Kalaa for Utsavam's fringe event. Marabu - The First Ripple, Santha Bhaskar's first act of a trilogy plays to three sold-out shows for Esplanade's Kalaa Utsavam. 

Malini Bhaskar, granddaughter of dance doyens the Bhaskars, is selected to represent Singapore in Viva ASEAN, a multicultural showcase involving dancers from the 10 ASEAN countries that toured Europe, China, Korea, Japan and Thailand. Santha Bhaskar heads the Singapore delegate to the ASEAN Contemporary Dance Festival in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. 

2018

Swathi Orchestra (BAA’s youth orchestra) gives its full-length debut performance in Sangeetha Saga, ram.  Under Santha Bhaskar’s choreography, Singai Sathir premieres and celebrates 2 full-house performances showcasing a Singaporean interpretation of a margam. An earlier work Manohra, is reimagined in its 3rd iteration, this time with independent artistes from Thailand led by Dr Anant Narkkong, completing BAA’s trilogy of ASEAN collaborations. The 2-day sold-out performance is graced by Ambassador of Thailand to Singapore, His Excellency Manopchai Vongphakdi.

BAA’s annual Music & Dance Festival Bhaskareeyam takes a bold leap and stages ticketed performances over 4 nights. Featuring artistes such as Shantha Ratii, V Balakrishnan, Ajith Bhaskar, Veshnu Narayanasamy and Maalika Panicker in addition to BAA’s own artistes, each day is a sold-out success. Trayee, BAA’s fundraiser enjoys overwhelming support from the community. The 2nd International Bharatanatyam Conference Conflict and Convergence: Bharatanatyam Culture in Contemporary Asia is jointly presented by BAA, NUS Centre For the Arts, NUS Indian Dance and Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society.

People of Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam are treated to bharatanatyam, kathak and kathakali dance forms through BAA’s participation in the 1050th Anniversary of Dai Co Viet State celebrations. BAA’s bharatanatyam and kathak dancers are featured again at the ASEAN Festival of Arts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

2017

The next generation of younger artistes is trained by Kalamandalam Biju and introduced in the Therukkoothu performance Vellai Vattam. Neewin Hershall’s Singapore premiere of Facade enjoys a two-day full-house show at Goodman Arts Centre Black Box. Brihannala – Arjuna’s Disguise, the second (of a trilogy) collaborative work with an ASEAN partner is staged successfully with friends from Amrita Performing Arts of Cambodia, and is graced by His Excellency Ambassador Ngoun Sokveng.

The 3rd edition of Bhaskareeyam (BAA’s Music & Dance Festival) features artistes such as Veshnu Narayanasamy and Roshni Pillay Kesavan in addition to several in-house talents. Santha Bhaskar takes centrestage at Singapore’s National Day Parade. Masterclasses by Padma Vibushan Pandit Birju Maharaj and Padmabhushan Sudha Ragunathan bring in participants even from Malaysia. Rainbow, a mini dance-theatre production conceptualised and choreographed by BAA’s Junior Company Dancers is well-received at Esplanade's Oktoburst! Festival.

Rama & Sita, a collaboration with ACT3 International travels to Sibenik, Croatia for the International Children’s Festival.

2016

BAA opens the year with Prahalada Charitam, a full-length Kathakali production featuring Priyadarshini Nagarajah, it’s first female artiste. Santha Bhaskar’s Na Mah celebrates a two-day sold-out run at the Esplanade. Vinayaka, BAA’s three-way collaboration with Sasana Budaya Art Troupe (Indonesia) and Singa Nglaras Gamelan Ensemble (Sinagpore) receives unreserved appreciation under Meenakshy Bhaskar’s creative direction.

Ramayana: Ashoka Vanam goes to Bangkok, Thailand as part of the ASEAN Plus Ramayana Festival.

President Tony Tan awards Santha Bhaskar the Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star) in recognition of her decades of contributing to the cultural landscape of Singapore.

2015

BAA’s Orchestra is brought to the next level with the staging of Raga Sandhya, the inaugural music production featuring Swathi (BAA’s youth orchestra). It is also the year BAA is awarded double honours with the Singapore International Festival of Arts commissioning Returning under the artistic direction of Madam Goh Lay Kuan, as well as Smriti Padha, a collaboration with Kerala Kalamandalam under the artistic direction of Santha Bhaskar. BAA also showcased the talents of young choreographers Dhana Bharathi, Usha Anbalagan, Shangari Sadheesh and Hemalatha Sathasivam with their “Tales from the Panchatantra” in Puraskara.

Ramayana goes on tour to New Delhi, Patna and Kolkatta as part of the Ramayana Mela in India.

2014

BAA’s Kathakali Troupe gets the honour to present Kiratham together with maestro Kalanilayam Kochu Narayana Pillai. Performed by six 3rd generation dancers, Bhairavi marks the coming-of-age of choreographer Ambujah Thiru, who is a student of Santha Bhaskar.  Through choreographer Meenakshy Bhaskar’s Yaatra IV, BAA forays into creating awareness of social issues such as the plight of domestic violence victims through dance.

2013

With the heaviest heart, students, teachers, staff, parents and well-wishers of BAA and NAS bid farewell to our Founder and CEO Mr KP Bhaskar on April 17, 2013. In his passing, Singapore loses a pioneering force and visionary in the field of arts.

XPressions is presented to music composition of renowned flautist and international musician BV Balasai. In collaboration with inDANCE (Canada), the Academy presents I, Cyclops at the CanAsian International Dance Festival in Toronto and restages it in Singapore with the full international cast.

The epic Ramayana is re-choreographed by Young Artiste Award recipient Meenakshy Bhaskar to a mix of fusion and traditional music and is presented at the launch of the Wellington Diwali Festival and the Diwali Festival of Lights Mela 2013 in Wellington, New Zealand.

2012

Santha Bhaskar choreographs for local comedian Kumar’s Amazing Race.

2011

A rich year of productions, starting with Santha Bhaskar’s collaboration with the Biological Arts Theatre’s Dr S Chandrasekaran, which results in Infinite Saree. With guest choreography by Canada-based Hari Krishnan, Purnima/Full Moon is presented. Under the invitation of S-VYASA, the Academy performs CHAKRA – the Philosophies of Vivekananda in Bangalore, India and under the invitation of the Thai government the Academy represents Singapore at the International Ramayana Festival in Bangkok, Thailand.

2010

Under guest choreographer PT Narendran of Kalakshetra, Thandava is produced. Meenakshy Bhaskar presents Yaatra III in collaboration with Flamenco guitarist Roberto Corrias. The Academy represents Singapore at the Bali Arts Festival in Bali, Indonesia with Vinayaka, a collabofrative work with Balinese musicians and dancers.

2009

Incorporating Yoga and its concepts, Santha Bhaskar choreographs CHAKRA. Representing Singapore, the Academy performs at the Children’s Festival in Shanghai, China.

2008

Senior dancer and choreographer Ambujah Thiru choreographs her first full-length dance drama Thirukutrala Kuravanji. Bhaskar’s Recording House opens its doors. The Academy represents Singapore at the World Folk Music Festival in Beijing, China.

2007

Bhed, a contrasting performance is brought to stage, featuring script and choreography by senior students of the Academy as well as dance styles such as Bollywood, Kollywood and Hiphop.

2006

Santha Bhaskar’s contemporary concept People Get Connected and India-based guest choreographer Jayashree Narayanan’s Vana Mahotsavam are staged.

2004

BAA hosts its first ever Kathakali Maha Mela, a Kathakali festival that runs through the night featuring BAA's very own Kalamandalam Biju alongside stalwarts from India.

2003

With music by BV Balasai, vocals by Dr Balamurali Krishna and guest choreography by Dr Saraswati Sundaresan, the mystical dance drama Quest is staged. Pushing boundaries, Santha Bhaskar choreographs Rasa & Dhwani, a dance production interpreting local poetries of various languages. Choreographer Meenakshy Bhaskar creates Vinayaka, her first full-length bharatanatyam work for the Singapore audience.

2001

Bhaskar’s Arts Gallery opens and holds its first Contemporary Art Exhibition.

1999

Full-length dance drama Aum Muruga – Kandhan Kavadi is staged, entirely conceptualised and choreographed by eight of Santha Bhaskar’s graduate students. Under the invitation of the Indian Government, Parinaamam tours India for the Indian Ramayana Festival, and receives warm welcome everywhere including Ayodhya, the mythical birthplace of Lord Rama.

1998 – 2000

Meenakshy Bhaskar represents Singapore in the ASEAN tour of Realizing Rama.

1998

The Core Dancers’ Programme is established to groom talented students.

1996

Meenakshy Bhaskar, dancer and choreographer, is awarded the Young Artist Award for her contributions to Dance. Manohra, an original blend of Indian and Thai dance, music and costumes, premieres at the Singapore Festival of Arts, with Meenakshy playing the lead role of Manohra.

1995

Ghanavenothan Retnam, resident flautist, musician and composer, is awarded the Young Artist Award for his contributions to Music while Nirmala Seshadri, student of Santha Bhaskar, is awarded the Young Artist Award for her contributions to Dance. Bhaskar’s Arts Academy represents Singapore at the Angkor International Ramayana Festival, performing Parinaamam at the majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Meenakshy Bhaskar, who was cast in the lead role of Sita, is deemed the Best Dancer of the festival by the Straits Times, Singapore.

1994

Ghanavenothan Retnam, resident flautist and flute instructor, conducts the first flute arangetram in Singapore.

1993

Bhaskar’s Arts Academy is registered as a non-profit company limited by guarantee with charity status and takes on the role of the performing wing of Nrityalaya. Parinaamam, a bold retelling of the Hindu epic Ramayana based on local poem “Sita’s Complaint”, premieres at the Festival of Asian Performing Arts.

1992

With music composed by Dr Padma Subramaniam and featuring a multi-national orchestra, Nrityalaya collaborates with the Singapore Indian Fine Arts and Apsaras Arts to stage Ritu Mahatmyam for the Singapore Arts Festival. Later that year, Nrityalaya performs at the ASEAN Festival of Arts in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

1991

In collaboration with Sopanam, an India-based Indian theatre group, Ottayan is staged. Santha Bhaskar’s choreography Devi Mahatmyam premieres at the Singapore Dance Festival and Nrityalaya performs at the World Folk Dance Festival in Chiba, Japan.

1990

Santha Bhaskar is awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest arts accolade, honouring individuals whose artistic excellence, contribution and commitment have enriched and distinguished Singapore’s arts and culture scene. 

1989

Santha Bhaskar’s Ardha Nareeswara is showcased at the 5th Singapore Festival of Dance.

1988

The Bhaskar’s set up Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society, a teaching institution dedicated to bringing the arts to the masses. They offer a full flight of classes in music, dance and art.

1977

Santha Bhaskar starts teaching at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Musical Activities (now known as Centre for the Arts)

1972 – 1978

Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance is invited to regularly perform at the Istana. Among the many dignitaries present was Queen Elizabeth II.

August 9, 1966

Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance participates in Singapore's first National Day Parade.

February 24, 1963

Meenakshy Bhaskar, their third child and only daughter is born.

1961 – 1965

Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance actively participates in Aneka Ragam Rakyat, a multi-cultural performance series promoting Singapore arts in small remote villages in Singapore.

April 30, 1961

Their second child Ananda Ram is born.

1959

Santha Bhaskar choreographs her first full-length dance drama Kutrala Kuravanji. The cast includes Chinese students who not only were students of Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance but also learnt dance from the Bhaskars in government schools.

1958

Santha Bhaskar choreographs her first production Butterfly Lovers after being inspired by the film version of the Chinese folktale. She also conducts the first Bharatanatyam Arangetram in Singapore.

1955 – 1958

Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance expands its teaching and performance to Malaysia.

Jan 16, 1958

The Bhaskars welcome their first child, Ananda Mohan in India.

1955

Mr Bhaskar travels to India and marries 16-year-old Pankyamma Santhamma. The newly married couple arrive in Singapore, where they continue performing and teaching together.

1952

Mr KP Bhaskar transits in Singapore on his way to Australia, but serendipity keeps him in this multi-cultural island. Mr Bhaskar establishes himself as the first classical Indian dance teacher in what will be the Republic of Singapore. Bhaskar’s Academy of Dance is born.