Nikita Maheshwary

Nikita Maheshwary is a performance maker, researcher and curator. Empaneled with Indian Council of Cultural Relations, she has trained extensively in classical Indian dance-theatre form of Kathakali, Post-Modern dance techniques and Improvisation.

As a multidisciplinary artist, her inquiries lie at the nexus of gender, culture and identity. She is deeply invested in telling stories of plurality, class divides and of female agency. Currently based in the Netherlands, she is a fellow of THIRD Cycle Research Group at the DAS Graduate School; and continues to serve as the festival director for the Natya Ballet Centre, New Delhi.

Photo archive..


Naachne-waali (Dancing-girl)
 noun: a professional female dancer


‘Dancing-girls’ is an artistic-research based performance project that explores and locates multiple voices & meanings around female agency, intimacy & sexuality. 
It aims to generate a multicultural dialogue on the ‘body of the female performer’ that is constantly contested as a site of entertainment, a site of work, pleasure, and abuse.

The ongoing inquiry began with a solo performance ‘Umrao&Me’ that takes the marginalised history of a tawaif performer - Umrao Jaan (a courtesan from North India) as a point of departure to question courtesan culture, male and female gaze, body shaming, censorship, agency of a female dancer, and politics of art.

This long-term research experiments on the borders of movement, writing, narrative theatre, pedagogy, projection and aspires to trace what influence social, political and cultural incidents have on the perception of a female body and especially how it reflects on the body of a female performer today. The research trajectory aims to develop a series of performances & lectures and build an online archive on the shifting identity of a dancing girl.