Pagrav is highly committed to nurturing the next generation by providing a supportive platform for emerging dancers.
Pagrav Dance Company promotes kathak, invigorating the form with modern context and renewed presentation, while encouraging new thinking and understanding of the discipline.
Established in 2005 by Artistic Director, Urja Desai Thakore, Pagrav has toured the full-scale works Baharan, Hats, Anant-Endless, I, Within, and Detox, nationally.
The Milton Keynes-based company is also highly committed to nurturing the next generation by providing a supportive platform for emerging dancers. Since 2016, Pagrav’s youth ensemble has been touring the UK with Aunusthan, an evening of classical work.
In 2017, Pagrav was awarded a year-long residency at MK Gallery supported by Arts Council England, Milton Keynes Council, Akademi and South East Dance. Various initiatives have transpired and been presented as a result, one being the R&D of Pagrav’s next production, Kattam Katti, which was also supported by Stantonbury Theatre and Milton Keynes Community Foundation. The next stage of creating Kattam Katti will notably enable the formation of the UK’s first repertory company for kathak.
Urja is one of the UK’s leading kathak practitioners, who studied under the guidance of Kumudini Lakhia at Kadamb, Ahmedabad for over 20 years. Urja then read a BA in Kathak from Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya. She has also completed a MA in South Asian Dance with Choreography from the University of Roehampton.
A graceful and emotive dancer, Urja is renowned for her love of abhinaya, subtle movements and technical strength. Furthermore, her sensitive, thought-provoking choreographic style is highly regarded by both traditionalists and modernists alike.
In 2007, Urja co-choreographed Akademi’s Bells for the Trafalgar Square Festival, an outdoor dance spectacle that brought together international talents from the UK, India and Belgium. She was also assistant choreographer to Kumudini Lakhia for the Swapnagata Festival curated by Akram Khan at Sadler's Wells in 2009. In 2012, Urja was appointed Artistic Director of the first dance festival in Milton Keynes. With the launch of the BBC Young Dancer competition in 2015, Urja was selected as the Guest Choreographer for the South Asian dance category soloist.
Another major passion for Urja within her practice is teaching, something that she has become extensively experienced in over the past 20 years, and has supported her standing as an ISTD Committee Member.
Furthermore, viewed as an active advocator and future industry leader for the dance sector, Urja was selected as one of 20 artists for the One Dance UK’s Mentoring Programme in 2015.
Lia Prentaki started her career as a dance practitioner, educator, choreographer, and performer. In a freelance capacity Lia has worked as a Project Manager, Producer and Creative Consultant with a varied portfolio of independent dance artists such as Kate Flatt OBE, Sivan Rubinstein, Zoi Dimitriou, Hannes Langolf, Subathra Subramaniam, Moxie Brawl, Leila MacMillan, Shane Shambhu, as well as Bloomsbury Festival.
Between 2015-2019 Lia worked with interdisciplinary Cambridge-based company 30 Bird, delivering projects such as the British Council Funded, Junctures in 2015, HOME in the Service of Science, which was the culmination of the company year-long residency at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. From 2015 Lia has also been associate producer with NFA International Arts and Culture and have together with Nelson Fernandez delivered a variety of projects.
In parallel Lia has worked at The Place since 2005, where she currently a producer; she is runs a complex portfolio of projects that span from theatre performances to Creative Europe co-operation projects with international Partners, co-creation projects with youth companies and specialised commissions.
Ann R David, PhD, is Professor of Dance and Cultural Engagement at the University of Roehampton, London. She specialises in dance anthropology and South Asian classical and popular dance, and her dance training includes ballet, contemporary, folk dance, as well as bharatanatyam and kathak. Ann’s research work focuses on dance and ritual practices in UK Indian communities investigating issues of migration, identity and embodiment, and the gestural, narrative and ritual practices of bharatanatyam. She has published widely on this work, as well as on dance in Bollywood, and on the ritual dances of Tibetan Buddhism and she is currently working on a monograph of Indian dancer Ram Gopal. Ann is passionate about the need for the arts and dance in education, working closely with policy makers in the arts and is on the Board of several arts organisations. She has given public talks at the V&A, British Library, British Museum and National Portrait Gallery, and been involved in post-show discussions at Asia House, Nehru Centre, Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre and The Bhavan.
Anthony Spira has been Director of MK Gallery since 2009. He was previously curator at Whitechapel Gallery London (1999-2009) and Jeu de Paume, Paris (1994-1996). His twenty years of curatorial experience includes: group shows from A Century of British Sculpture, Jacob Epstein to Rachel Whiteread (Jeu de Paume 1996), to Cadences, Henrick Goltzius to Wassily Kandinsky (MK Gallery 2014); and over 30 solo exhibitions and publications with a broad range of artists including Hans Bellmer, Andrea Buttner, Rodney Graham, Nasreen Mohamedi and Mark Wallinger. He trained as an art historian and has written and published extensively on modern and contemporary art. In March 2019, he launched a major renovation and expansion of MK Gallery, designed by 6a architects with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman. He has previously served on the boards of the Contemporary Art Society, commissioning organisation Pavilion and as jury member for the Paul Hamlyn Artists Awards.
Lady Rima Scott JP graduated from Notre Dame University (USA) and has an MA in Education: Special Educational Needs. For many years, she taught dance and movement in a variety of special-needs settings. Rima founded Bucks Dance, a charity for the development of dance in Buckinghamshire, and has served as a member of various charitable boards including NACRO, Council for Dance Education and Training, Southern Arts Board, Milton Keynes Arts Association, and MK Theatre & Gallery Company (Chair of its Theatre Committee), and MK Arts for Health. Rima was the first Chair of the Arts & Heritage Alliance - MK. She was a Magistrate on the Milton Keynes Bench for 26 years, as well as advising at the Citizens Advice Bureau, and serving as Chairman of governors of her local village school governors for 20 years. She currently serves in the board of Motus Dance. Interests include 12 grandchildren who are scattered over the globe, dance, drama and music performance, tennis, bridge, Pilates and books.
Zena is a senior associate at a global law firm in the City of London. During her career, she has spent extended periods of time practicing in Tokyo, Moscow and Paris. Wherever she has lived, Zena has remained passionate about the arts, particularly dance. She has been learning kathak for over a decade and is one of Urja’s senior students. She has had the opportunity to perform with Pagrav Dance Company and travel to and perform in India on the Kathak Yatra in 2015. Zena also regularly undertakes voluntary work and legal pro bono projects, with a particular focus on social mobility.
Sanjay is an accountant and financial controller by profession who has worked in the international trade and finance sector for over 12 years. He also specialises in the petrochemical business with knowledge of international business and experience in extensive travelling. He has been learning kathak for the past 13 years and has performed professionally for various arts festivals and events at venues such as the Science Museum, Rich Mix, The Place, Nehru Centre, and MK Gallery. He regularly attends events to support the Indian arts.
Eva Martinez is a performing arts curator, producer, dramaturge and coach. She was most recently Artistic Programmer at Sadler’s Wells in London (2013-2020) where she curated a programme showcasing distinctive British based artists alongside the best of international work for the Lilian Baylis Studio.
Born and educated in France with a Spanish heritage, after literature studies and a Masters in Arts Management, she joined Trinity Laban (2002-2006), Dance4 (Nottingham, 2006-2009) and later as Performance programmer at Southbank Centre, London (2009-2011). Now freelance with 20 years’ experience, Eva is focusing on working as a coach, mentor and dramaturge with dance artists across a wide spectrum of practices. She is a sought-after dance curator and consultant, collaborating with an extended network of cultural organisations internationally; she is known for her empowering and facilitative approach to talent development, and as a curator, for her championing of experimentation and diversity.
Eva is a certified and practicing Relational Dynamics coach since 2012, bringing this approach to much of her work. She is a Clore Leadership Fellow (2011/12), a member of the Royal Society of Arts, a board member for National Dance Agency South East Dance (Brighton) and for Independent Dance (London).