Photos: Dance Night with Ajna Dance Company

Ajna Dance Company and guests dazzled us with beautiful dancing – and stunning colors!

Coming up next in our Summer Music Series: Kimya Dawson
Wednesday, July 18th, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

A Grammy winning, platinum selling singer songwriter most widely known for her work on the JUNO soundtrack, Kimya has been featured in Rolling Stone, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, and the New York Times.  RSVP for Kimya’s show at Waterside!

At our Dance Night

On Wednesday, we saw amazing performances – and learnt some Bollywood and Bhangra steps! (Learn Bhangra was one of the special guests.) And we had musicians Raj Daffu and, from Taalim, Jay Gandhi and Mike Lukshis. (Read our interview with founder and choreographer, Minila)

Joya Dass of Lady Drinks had a quick talk with Minila here about the show:

It was a fun-filled night! We really got into the dancing!

Ajna Dance Company and our guests dance - at Waterside, NYC - Summer Event


(These 2 photos by Joya Dass )

Ajna Dance Company and our guests dance - at Waterside, NYC - Summer Event

Couldn’t make it? Join us for Kimya‘s event!

(Find all our 2018 Summer Events here.)

Interview with Ajna Dance Company’s Minila Shah: “People feel very vulnerable when they dance”

On Wednesday (July 11th), we kick off our Waterside Summer Event Series with the riveting choreography of Ajna Dance Company.

Beautiful Indian Dancers in bright green skirts - Ajna Dance Company - Performs at Waterside in NYC July 11th

We spoke with Ajna’s Founder and Artistic Director, Minila Shah, about what to expect from the show!

We’re very excited about having you perform! Can you describe your style of dance?

What we do is a blend of classical Indian dance – there’s nine different styles of classical dance that come from India. We blend that with a number of different kinds of Indian folk dance. We also include Bollywood, which is really more the music that comes from the Indian film industry – it’s more mainstream and generally more upbeat. Our dance style is really a combination of classical, folk, and Bollywood.

That sounds amazing.

What do you think is the most intriguing aspect of your choreography?

That it blends a number of different styles – and that it’s very relatable. The music and the movement, it’s artistic, it’s graceful, it’s something that people who aren’t from the culture or don’t speak the language can still very much relate to.

Tell us what you’re  preparing for the Waterside show’s audience? I understand that it will include a chance for the audience to learn some steps and join in?

Yes – we’re going to offer our audience a glimpse of those three different styles, as they relate to Bollywood dance. We’ll start with a Rajasthan folk dance and we’ll include Garba, a Gujarati folk dance style.

Our second piece is semi-classical and more contemporary performance and so we’ll be drawing from a classical dance style called Kathak, and also including some Bharatnatyam, a South Indian classical dance, but it’s also Bollywood music, so it has a more contemporary feel to it.

Our final dance piece is a high energy Bollywood dance number that’s more typical of what you might think of when you think of Bollywood dancing: Lots of movement, music, hips, smiles, really upbeat tempo.

We’ll end with a bang! Then we’re going to teach our audience some steps.

And throughout this, we’re going to have a couple of sets of live Indian instrumental performances. We’ll have Tabla and the Sitar, a string instrument, and a big drum called a Dhol.


Now, obviously, you’re a professional dancer – but what about people who are convinced they simply can’t dance or people who don’t often dance? You do teach dance, so how do you convey dance moves to people who don’t dance for a living?

So much of dance is confidence, and letting go – because people feel very vulnerable when they dance. If you’re not confident, you feel shy and you feel like you’re being judged. It’s partly a mindset. How I help as a teacher is really breaking things down so they’re simple and easy to understand and easy to follow, so all of a sudden it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

You’re just bending your knees and you’re just moving your shoulders. The beauty of this music is it’s so intuitive and it’s so easy to connect to and it’s very uplifting. It makes people want to dance.

Even if you feel like you’re not good at it, if you’d like to dance, this is a great place to start. How we move feels very natural and easy.

What’s your particular strength as a teacher?

I think people should feel comfortable and connect with you as a teacher. It’s as much about your personality and how personable you are, as it is about how good of a dancer you are. You could be a great dancer, but it doesn’t mean you’re a great teacher. So connecting with your students, making them feel comfortable and they’re in a safe place. For me, explaining things verbally and really giving metaphors helps a lot.

For example, I might tell you to imagine you’re picking an apple off a tree or shoveling: Something that they can understand – an everyday activity. Breaking things down, being very detailed in terms of instructions, giving easy metaphors – and then just making people feel comfortable and allowing them to have a little fun with it.

What is your favorite part of entertaining?

It’s the energy, the connection with the people you’re dancing for. Once you’re on stage, it’s like you’re not thinking about anything else. You’re in the moment and you’re sharing your craft and you can see people watching you, really connecting with what you’re doing, whether they understand the words or not. It’s that human connection with people.

Have you ever been to Waterside?

We actually did a residency this spring and summer at the British International School of New York, so I have and it’s beautiful.

You perform in big spaces all the time, but have you ever performed right on the East River?

I think this is a first!

Let’s say I’d like to get in the mood for your show, listen to some songs… What would you recommend?

There’s a style of music called Bhangra, and that’s a folk dance from the north. The music has become really mainstream. It’s very popular in the United Kingdom and Canada and the US. It has a very similar backbeat to hip hop.

If you just type in Bhangra song on YouTube or Spotify or Apple music, you’ll come up with a whole host of songs.

As for Bollywood – to narrow it down, there’s lots of premade top “10 Bollywood songs of 2017” – searching for that would be a great place to start.

Perfect. We’ll get in the zone!

What do you love about New York? You weren’t born here, which is a lot of people’s experience of New York. What do you enjoy most?

The city just has an energy that’s unmatched. I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve lived in a lot of different places. The energy and the people of New York are incomparable. People say that New Yorkers aren’t friendly, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I think there’s a sense of community here. You see your neighbors, you see your local business people, you have relationships with them.

I think it’s a special place. It’s diverse in so many different ways. It’s the best city in the world.

What do you love about Indian dance and music? What inspires your passion for it?

My parents immigrated from India in the 70s. It’s a part of the culture that I really connected to, having been brought up in Canada and the US. It was an easy way to connect to my culture and as I got older. I realized how many other people not from the culture were inspired or interested, or thought it was really fun or beautiful.

For me, Indian dance was what I was trained in. It’s part of my heritage, so I feel a special connection to it. It transcends boundaries of culture and race and gender. Dance, in general, brings people together.

Register for Minila’s Waterside show with Ajna Dance Company on Eventbrite.

You can follow Ajna on social media on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.

Ajna will be performing on the 11th with these musicians:

Table & Sitar (Musicians) from Taalim

(Instagram, Facebook)

Jay Gandhi, a sitar player based in New York City, has been a disciple of Pandit Pushpinder Bhardwaj of the Maihar School popularized by Pandit Ravi Shankar for the last 11 years. Having performed musical fusions as well as Hindustani Classical renditions in India and the US, Jay is as much an advocate of cross-cultural collaboration as he is of musical traditionalism. When not playing music, Jay is a student and researcher at the at Columbia University’s Department of Psychology.

Musician Mike Lukshis - Performs at Waterside in NYC July 11th - with Ajna Dance Company

Mike Lukshis, a native resident of New Jersey, has dedicated his life to absorbing and spreading the art of tabla. For the last 10 years, he has been studying and living with Pt. Divyang Vakil in a Gurukul style of training. In addition to his accomplishments as a solo and accompanying tabla player in the US and abroad, Mike is a full time teacher and manager of the Taalim School of Indian Music in New Jersey and New York City.

Musician Mike Lukshis - Performs at Waterside in NYC July 11th - with Ajna Dance Company

Dholi (Drummer) – Raj Daffu
Instagram , Facebook

Rajpal Daffu, born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. He got his first dhol in 2000 and had the honor and privilege of learning from Ron Lotta. Raj moved to moved to New York City and and accompanied and played alongside Ustad Jarnail Singh, New York Based dhol player at countless events. Raj has successfully performed at events across the globe in Kenya, Jamaica, Mexico, The Bahamas, Chile and Belize.

Musician Rajpal Daffu - Performs at Waterside in NYC July 11th - with Ajna Dance Company

Meet Our Performers: Waterside Summer Music Series

Next month, our 2018 Waterside Summer Event Series begins with dance, music & movies!

We’re counting down the days until the first show (as of today, it’s 20!)

You may already know some of our performers – they’ve appeared on shows like “Good Morning America”, “The View”, “Sesame Street”, “MTV” and many others!

Here are some videos to wet your appetite:

Ajna Dance Company (July 11th)

Kimya Dawson (July 18th)

 George Gee Swing Orchestra  (July 25th)

And in August, it’s movie time with “Toy Story”, “Labyrinth” and other fantastic films!

Learn all about our full summer line-up here.

Remember: All the events are FREE! Just register on Eventbrite.

Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series – Line-Up Announced!

We’re thrilled to announce our 2018 Summer Event Series line-up!

This year’s concerts, dancing and movies highlights the diversity and wonder that New York – and Waterside – are known for.

Join us this summer to enjoy live music, dance, and films alongside our unparalleled views!

July: “Waterside Summer Music Series” – Wednesdays, 7pm to 9pm

July 11thAjna Dance Company

Get ready for an exciting performance of Bollywood and Traditional Indian Dance and Music – followed by an interactive dance lesson! Ajna Dance Company delivers visually stunning and culturally rich performances that engage, educate and inspire – with dances that blend the traditions of classical Indian and folk dance with Bollywood and other contemporary movement.  Ajna has appeared on NBC and ABC’s Good Morning America, The Food Network, and performed at countless NYC landmarks including The United Nations, Macy’s, and Barclays.

Ajna Dance Company - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
Ajna Dance Company

July 18thKimya Dawson

Kimya’s playful vocals paired with her eclectic musical compositions will capture your heart. She’s a Grammy winning, platinum selling singer songwriter most widely known for her work on the JUNO soundtrack.  Kimya has been featured in Rolling Stone, Spin, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times which described her as “a veteran of the scrappy anti-folk circuit, with stream of consciousness songs that balance the caustic and the childlike”.

Kimya Dawson - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
Kimya Dawson

July 25thGeorge Gee Swing Orchestra

George Gee’s 8th album is: “Swing Makes You Happy” – and that’s exactly what this show will do! When the George Gee Swing Orchestra plays popular songs from the Swing Era, you’re sure to feel more pep in your step. George Gee Swing Orchestra’s appearances include MTV, the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and ABC’s Good Morning America. (Note: This show will take place rain or shine! If it rains, we have an indoor space to sway and swing in!)

George Gee Swing Orchestra - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
George Gee Swing Orchestra

August: “Waterside Summer Movie Series” – Mondays (see below for times)

August brings you to the plaza for movies the whole family can enjoy.  With over six acres (including landscaped gardens facing the East River), Waterside is the ideal location from which to take in the film, the amazing views, the complimentary refreshments, and, have a wonderful evening in the city – with the feel of an urban retreat.

Take a journey into worlds of animated toys, goblins and re-gain your child-like wonder:

August 20th – Waterside’s Audience Choice*! (7pm)

Being shown at Waterside by popular demand – “The Wizard of Oz”! This beloved, iconic 1939 musical is based on the work of L. Frank Baum.

SPECIAL EVENT: In addition to the film, Marc Baum of the All Things Oz Museum, a non-profit organization devoted to Oz, will join us. He will bring free collectable postcards and other Oz goodies.

Marc Baum will lead us in All Things Oz Trivia Contest – bring your knowledge, your courage and your heart. There will also be a best Oz costume. Both activities will feature prizes for the winners!

The Wizard of Oz - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
The Wizard of Oz

Friday, August 24th – “Labyrinth” (7:30pm) (Note: Rescheduled from Aug 13)

Starring the iconic David Bowie and a pre-Academy Award-winning Jennifer Connelly, this Jim Henson musical fantasy tale has a teenage girl, tired of babysitting her baby brother, wish him away – only to have him captured by the evil Goblin King!

Labyrinth - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series

August 27th – “
From Up On Poppy Hill” (7:30pm)

Set in Yokohama in 1963, as Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics, the beautifully animated From Up on Poppy Hill tells the story of a high school couple’s innocent love and the secret surrounding their births. The film evokes both a wide-eyed hope for the future, and an aching nostalgia for a past that can never be recovered. Written by Academy Award Winner and the legendary founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, and directed by Goro Miyazaki, the film marks the first creative collaboration between father and son. This English language version features the voices of Christina Hendricks, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis and Bruce Dern.

From Up On Poppy Hill - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
From Up On Poppy Hill

Tuesday, August 28th – “Toy Story” (8pm) (Note: Rescheduled from Aug 6)

Toys come to life in this ever-popular 1995 film about a cowboy doll threatened by a new spaceman figure. Will the cowboy lose his place in a little boy’s heart? Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.

Toy Story - Waterside 2018 Summer Event Series
Toy Story


Join Waterside for these irresistible events!

All events are free and take place on the plaza (25 Waterside Plaza, NY, NY 10010.)  Limited seating is available, lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged.

Register here.