Nadhi Thekkek is the Artistic Director of Nava Dance Theatre, a bharatanatyam dance company based in San Francisco, California (USA). She operates on the belief that bharatanatyam, while classical, is a modern medium with potential to push boundaries of how we can use traditional art forms to understand place, identity, and politics.


Nadhi’s work has been supported through:

Nadhi has performed at various venues; Scotiabank Dance Centre (Vancouver), La Mama Experimental Theatre Club (NYC), Dance Place (D.C.), and Southbank Center (London). She has also worked as freelancer with Seeta Patel (London), Randee Paufve (Oakland), and her work was recently commissioned by the Oakland Ballet.

Her last production, “Broken Seeds Still Grow,” created and directed by Nadhi and visual artist Rupy C. Tut, was an exploration of their ancestry and an examination of cultural othering during the 1947 Partition, or the split between India and Pakistan (which created 15 million refugees and killed over 1 million people.) After realizing the parallels between then in South Asia and now in America, Nadhi and Rupy are creating a sequel “Broken Seeds/Taking Root,” premiering March 2019 at CounterPulse.

This iteration is inspired by witness statements and records from the South Asian American Digital Archive, their First Days Project, Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, and others to examine how xenophobia continues to pervade the diaspora in America, and more specifically here in the Bay Area. Allowing these stories to occupy the space around us is an important part of Nadhi’s mission. For more info visit

Past productions include, “The Cloud Messenger” and “Sacred Sidewalks.”



Nadhi Thekkek performed her arangetram (solo dance debut) in 2001, under the tutelage of Guru Smt. Sundara Swaminathan (Kala Vandana Dance Company, San Jose, CA) after more than 10 years of foundational training. During the next few years, she danced extensively with the company, performing in American venues such as the Palace of Fine Arts in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (2000 - 2002) and the Asian Arts Museum, as well as a number of company productions. Later, she had the opportunity to join Nritya School of Dance (Houston, TX) under the tutelage of Guru Smt. Padmini Chari. As of 2012, she has continued training under Guru Sri. A. Lakshmanaswamy (Chennai, India). Nadhi returns to Chennai 1-2x a year to continue with her training and to perform in multiple venues during the Chennai Music and Dance Festival.
Nadhi has earned her PhD in Bioengineering from Rice University under the guidance of MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow, Rebecca Richard-Kortum in 2013. (Nadhi's publications can be found here.) She finds many parallels between the research and discovery process both in science and in performing arts, in bharatanatyam especially. As a full-time dance maker and performer, she continues to apply the investigative process to the bharatanatyam work she creates today. 

Banner photo by Sergio Carrasco

Portrait by Peter Prato

Rehearsal excerpts from “Restless Eyes Glance”

This particular piece is inspired by the breath of Krishna's flute, and the life it gives to those who hear it. Coming back to solo work, to traditional repertoire and in particular the varnam is what breathes life into the bharatanatyam practice.