Philadelphia, January 30, 2017 - Accomplished mrudangam artist and composer Rajna Swaminathan joins forces with acclaimed playwright/actor Anu Yadav and South Indian percussion ensemble RAJAS to debut their compelling political and personal performance, Storytellers, on February 19. Building on their prior collaborative work for Yadav's work, Meena's Dream, the artistsreflect on their standpoint as South Asian Americans against a backdrop of racially charged conflict and other "isms" swirling around our society.  Combining musical improvisation with community-engaged theater, Storytellers acknowledges our differences, transcends boundaries, and addresses the urgent need for compassion and humanity in these times. 

On Saturday, February 18, Intercultural Journeys, in partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative, will host a free workshop led by the artists. Blending music, movement, and theater, Swaminathan and Yadav will guide participants through an exploration of building collaboration, community, and courage by listening across differences. The workshop is appropriate for adults and teenagers.




Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 7pm

Ibrahim Theater, International House (3701 Chestnut Street)

Tickets for the performance are $15 for General Admission, $10 for IHP members, and $8 for students. To purchase tickets, visit or call 215-387-5125, ext. 2.



The Rhythm of Home

Saturday, February 18, 2017 - 3pm

Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street

Tickets for the free workshop are limited to the first 40 registrants, and are available online at:



Rajna Swaminathan is an accomplished mrudangam (South Indian percussion) artist, a protégé of mrudangam legend Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. She has performed with several renowned Indian classical musicians, most notably mentor and vocalist T.M. Krishna. Over the past few years, she has been studying and collaborating with eminent musicians in New York's jazz and creative music scene, including Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman, Miles Okazaki, and Amir ElSaffar. Rajna leads the ensemble RAJAS, which collectively explores new textural and improvisational horizons at the nexus of Indian classical and creative music traditions. She is also a composer-performer for dance and theater works. She has toured widely with the acclaimed company Ragamala Dance, and has collaborated with playwright Anu Yadav. Rajna regularly teaches workshops on the South Indian rhythmic perspective, most prominently at the Banff International Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. Rajna holds degrees in Anthropology and French from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Music at Harvard University. 

RAJAS brings together contemporary musicians from the Indian classical and jazz/creative music scenes in New York City. The Vedantic term "rajas" refers to the inner human energy that compels us to act, to pursue our passions, to create, and to preserve ourselves. Spearheaded by mrudangam artist Rajna Swaminathan, the project provides a forum to collectively contemplate new possibilities for musical concepts and sensibilities stemming from the Indian classical idiom. 


Anu Yadav is a critically acclaimed actress, writer, educator, and producer dedicated to untold stories, social justice, deep laughter and connection.  She tours her solo plays ‘Capers and Meena’s Dream, and founded Classlines a storytelling project on wealth and poverty. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Safdar in Delhi, and Beijing’s National Academy of Dramatic Arts, among others.  Her work was covered by MTV, the Washington Post, WAMU-FM, and the documentaries Walk with Me, Chocolate City. She is a 2016 DC Artist Fellow, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds an M.F.A. in Performance from University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently at work on ISM: A TRAGICOMEDY, and recently partnered with the Institute for Policy Studies as a Catalyst Grant recipient.



Intercultural Journeys uses the arts to promote peace and greater understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, faiths, and cultures with the aim of catalyzing social change and awareness. Founded in 2002, Intercultural Journeys believes that performances, done for the purpose of bringing people together that might otherwise be in conflict, give us the opportunity to play a small part in contributing to world peace.



Asian Arts Initiative is a community-based arts organization and exhibition space in the Chinatown North neighborhood of Philadelphia that engages artists and everyday people to create art that explores the diverse experiences of Asian Americans, addresses our social context, and imagines and effects positive community change. Created in 1993, Asian Arts Initiative was a response to community concerns about rising tension between two racially diverse communities with the mission to create community through the power of art. For the past 23 years, Asian Arts Initiative has provided an inclusive and safe space for a diverse population of artists, youth, and community residents to voice their experiences of cultural identity and heritage and claim the power of art-making; all of which reflects our longstanding commitment to civic and community engagement, strengthened by our exploration and pioneering of new strategies to further community informed and engaged art.