20 Years of Blue13
Blue13 Dance Company is an American dance theatre ensemble based in Los Angeles, with a mission to drive a substantive shift in the perception and practice of American dance through performance, outreach, and education. For over 20 years, Blue13 has connected audiences through the power of live, aesthetically and culturally daring dance, performing in the U.S. and abroad in its highly energetic and theatrical modern dance style that is inspired in part by the classical and cultural art forms of the Indian subcontinent. A first-generation South Asian American, Blue13’s Artistic director, Achinta S. McDaniel pulls precision, humor, and deep emotion from her ensemble to create work as rebellious and unconventional as its architect. Storytelling through dance is central to the company, as is a continual exploration of technique with its cast of dancers of many backgrounds. The work is moody, rhythmic, and charged, presenting the audience with an intelligent experience of performance that turns the cultural stereotype of Indian dance on its head.
Blue13 recently will show new works “1947” presented by the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Spring, 2023. The piece explores the India-Pakistan partition of 1947, colonization, and its lasting effects. It was originally commissioned by the USC Kaufman school and premiered in 2022. Blue13 recently performed in McDaniel’s new stripped down, score-based contemporary work “Restless autumn, restless spring,” with a world premiere at the REDCAT New Original Works Festival in 2022. A hallmark event in the company’s career was July 2022’s sold out Hollywood Bowl performance, in which Blue13 performed alongside the legendary Indian composer, A.R. RAHMAN. Blue13 created the critically acclaimed immersive piece, “Shaadi” at the historic Heritage Square Museum in 2021. Other recent works include the evening length “Terpsichore in Ghungroos,” which premiered at The Wallis in February 2020. This three-part work provides commentary and explores the depths of insidious oppression based on race, gender, and othering.
Blue13 has toured internationally, including 2008’s “Fez-Queen of Cities,” with engagements at Royce Hall Los Angeles, Symphony Space New York, in Rabat, Morocco’s Mohammed V Theatre, and at UNESCO in Paris. Blue13 has been presented by University of North Carolina Wilmington, by the Tahoe Arts Project by Cal Poly Arts San Luis Obispo, and in residency at Arts For Schools in Nevada and California. Blue13 has performed at Taal Festival in Cleveland, Ohio and the Northern Alberta Children’s Festival in Canada, and in performances and festivals from Seattle and Las Vegas to New York and Miami. The illustrious Music Center of Los Angeles commissioned the ensemble’s site-specific “Moves After Dark” work which was presented for 4 nights in downtown Los Angeles to critical acclaim. Blue13 was also commissioned in 2014, with support from the Doris Duke Foundation, to create a site-specific piece at Grand Park Los Angeles, creating a weeklong interactive residency that culminated in a pubic performance of a new work exploring the cross-generational effects of the India-Pakistan partition.
Beyond the concert stage, Blue13 provides dancers and choreography for Film, Television, and Special Events worldwide. The company has performed in countless corporate and private events, from Bollywood and Bhangra dance shows, to contemporary work, hip hop and more. Blue13 was featured in Achinta S. McDaniel’s choreography on the 2016 season premiere of FOX’s “New Girl,” and has worked with renowned artists and celebrities including DJ Snake, Zooey Deschanel, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Timbaland, Anupam Kher, Sunny Leone, Lauren Gottlieb, Rasika Shekar, with director, Todd Haynes, and with legendary songstress, Kavita Krishnamurthy. Director McDaniel and the company have also worked on international feature films and commercials, and on television programs on FOX, MTV, CBS, NBC, WE, Sony TV, and on PBS.
Outreach and education are woven deeply into the company’s mission. Experts in audience engagement and Bollywood instruction and choreography, Blue13 further engages communities through classes and workshops, audience “flash mobs,” and interactive public dance events with DJ’s and drumming. Blue13 offers the longest running Bollywood dance classes in Los Angeles at studios all over the city. The company offers choreography services for schools, professional dancers and ensembles, and for special events and weddings. To translate dance into lasting societal contributions is in Blue13’s very DNA, as is the desire to empower and unite people, and to spread joy and understanding through its work. Blue13 is a 2022 recipient of the California Arts Council Arts Exposure grant for performing in Southern California schools over 2023-24. They also were a 2021 finalist in the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project grant, a recipient of a Copland Fund grant, and 2022 recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, one to support a new immersive work, and one to support new A/AAPI centered initiative, Playdate.
Photo credits (left to right, top to bottom):
Rose Eichenbaum, Kevin Parry, Casa Romantica, Walt Disney World, Peter Zuehlke, Daniel Valentine, The Music Center, Kevin Parry