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Dance Films

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Stage Productions

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Shilpa Natana 

Shilpa Natana is a dance genre that evolved out of collaboration between Belsaré and her mentor Maya Kulkarni.


Described by The New York Times as "a virtuoso number" (August 2018), Shilpa Natana (The Dancing Sculptures) is rooted in the Sanskrit texts: the Natyashastra, the Abhinayadarpana and the Shilpa Shastra. This dance-genre steps out of the traditional Indian classical repertory. Classical Chola, Mathura and Gandhara sculptures in addition to the Ajanta cave paintings inspire not only the choreography, but also the āhārya (costume, hair and make-up).


Dance pieces from this repertory include a theatrical exploration of pāda bhedāh (foot-positions) common in both classical sculptures and dances; a dramatic account of Vishnu’s transformation into the seductive Mohini; a refreshing interpretation of Līlā Shuka’s verses from the classic Krishnakaranāmritam; a dance inspired by Ardhanārīśwara that establishes parallels between the half-Śiva-half-Umā iconography and the Nāsadīya Sūkta (Hymn of Creation) in the Rig Veda (c.1700 B.C.E.),  Medea's Passion (2021), Plato's Allegory of the Cave (2020), Kundalini (2021), Kavacham (2021), and Jatayu (2023), along with dance films Chinnamastā and In the Creator's Gaze. .


In September 2018, New York dance journalist Karen Greenspan interviewed Kulkarni and Belsaré on the creative process of Shilpa Natana. The interview published in Ballet Review: the Premier Dance Journal in 2019. Kulkarni and Belsaré continue to create new dances that add to this repertory. 


Shilpa Natana premiered in November 2017 at the Third Annual TriNethra Festival of Dance in Boston, USA. Ever since it has received accolades from both the press and the audiences.


The Vermin's Will (2016)

The Vermin’s Will is inspired by the ŚAIVA Siddhāntam in Mannikavāsagār’s Śiva Purānam and Psychologist Carl Jung’s studies of the human archetype. 

An undefined being plagued by his inadequacies hovers in the space between memories of his past lives in the form of a tree, a bird and a snake. It is in the magic of Shivan’s aruL or Grace where he finds liberation from his memories, attachments and fears. In the process he identifies with three aspects of Shivan: Shivan who drank the poison that surfaced when oceans were churned, Shivan, who is inseparable from Devi: his feminine aspect and Shivan who soakes the world with the waters of the Ganga that pour from the matted locks of his hair. 

Concept, Choreography and Costume: Mesma Belsaré

Direction: Dr. Maya Kulkarni

Music: Sadgurunatha Odhuvar, G. Balasubramaniam 

Special thanks to Dr. Robert Perinbanayagam and Dr. Anita Ratnam

Carmine Bees (2008, revised 2018)

Inspired by Kurukulla: the Buddhist Goddess who is adept at bewitching both men and women with her incomparable charm and sexual magnetism.

The piece deconstructs classical idioms and re-evaluates the relationship between verse and religious iconography. Carmine Bees extols the versatility of language and erases borders that limit gender, religion and vernacular literature.


Conceived, designed and choreographed by Mesma S. Belsare



Earlier Works

Zan: Women in the Shahnameh (2010)

Premiere: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Inspired by three distinct women characters from poet Firdowsi's Persian epic poem Shahnama.

Conceived, choreographed and performed by Mesma Belsaré

AKSHAH (Sanskrit, Axis) (2010)

Akshah is the axis of the dancing principle that aligns the abstract sound (music) and the material (body) on one plane; the distinction between the two disappears and music and dance become inseparable. By taking away one of the key components of dance: The FACE, this piece makes a focal shift from the traditional angika (expression through the tangible body) to the sattvika fundamentals (expression of the pure and the intangible), thereby challenging alike the dancer and her audience.

Concept, Choreography, Dancer: Mesma Belsaré

Music and vocals: Deepti Navaratna


Based on the Chaurapanchasika: a set of 50 verses by the 12th century Kashmiri court poet Bilhana. Set in three distinct vignettes like a triptych, this work culls its aesthetic and gestural source from the Chaurapanchasika miniature paintings of the late Sri N.C. Mehta collection.

Concept and Research: Padmashri Geeta Chandran

Music: Dr. Vasanthi Krishna Rao



En-twined is based on the classical Hindu Shaiva vision of The Ardhanarishwara (lit. Half-Woman God). En-twined revisits this duality of the male and female principles in one entity as a literary and musical motif to celebrate the ambivalence of creative forces in nature, originally envisioned by poet and philosopher Sankara (circa 788-820 AD) in the form of SHIVAA and SHIVA as being one and the same.

Conceived, designed and choreographed by Mesma S. Belsare



Uma is a solo inspired by the eroticism and sensuality of the courtesan dancer of pre-modern South India. The work oscillates between traditional and contemporary frames and represents idealized images of woman as virgin, lover, wife and Goddess. Uma is a production of InDance company, Toronto, Canada.

World premiere at Transformations: Expressions of Gender Roles in Asian Dance at the CanAsian dance festivals, Harbourfront Centre,Toronto, Canada (2006 and 2008) and subsequent productions the Lincoln Theatre, Washington D.C. (2007) and The Lincoln Center, New York City (2008)

Concept and Choreography: Hari Krishnan

Costume: Rex

Textual Consultant: Devesh Soneji

Special thanks to Kotipalli Hymavati (India)

Unquiet Epics

Inspired by the oil paintings of M.F. Husain based on the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata and its conflicting plots and characters, Unquiet Epics explores the tangible battle between five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste of the human condition with hundred desires of the external world.

Conceived, designed and choreographed by Mesma S. Belsare

One Fifth

Collaboration, Mesma S. Belsare and Hari Krishnan

One Fifth deconstructs and reconfigures pre-conceived notions of Indian dance while simultaneously exploring the fragility of human relationships using myth and the gender-ambivalent iconography of the Hindu God Shiva.

World Premiere at Fall Faculty Concert, Wesleyan University CT (2005)

Fire to Ice

Masters Thesis: A multimedia performance including video, sculpture, puppetry and elements of Greek theatre with classical Indian, African and Celtic music.

Premiere at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston (2004)

Conceived, designed and directed by Mesma S. Belsare

In collaboration with live musicians and actors, this production involves puppets and requires live video projection.

Shilpa Nrityam

A dance production that originated from Belsaré's studies of sculpture and inter-disciplinary arts at the Mass College of Art and Design in Boston, MA. This production involved hand made large scale sculptures by Belsaré, video projection and dance choreography, all of which was presented as the first ever performance-based capstone project by a student at MassArt, Boston. 

Premiere at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA (2003)

Conceived, designed and directed by Mesma Belsaré

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