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Nyra's Dreams


‘Nyra’s Dreams’ is a story of Nyra, who walks between different worlds and connects within her fragmented mind to women who teach her about strength, frailty, and hope, helping her realize her real quest to find her way back home to Dyavaprthivi, between heaven and earth. This quasi-solo play includes contemporary and traditional Indian classical dance, media, varied characters and humor to bring Nyra and her story to life.

Nyra is a fictional character derived from research about the Devadasi system and the history of the Indian Classical dance form ‘Bharatnatyam’. The research partially shows that the Devadasi system is believed to have originated in ancient India and still exists because of mythology that has textually, visually, and orally narrated through generations about various deities, monsters, and badass outrageous women in Indian culture.

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People of Nyra

Writer & Performer for the solo-play, 'Nyra's Dreams'. 

Writer, Director, Choreographer, Editor for the short film 'Nyra's Dreams'. 

Shalaka Kulkanir

Shalaka Kulkarni (she/her) is an interdisciplinary dance artist. Trained in Indian Classical dance, she creates experiences that bridge the ancient and contemporary, uplifting marginalized voices. A prolific actor, filmmaker, dancer, and choreographer, she has toured original work and participated in collaborations in India, the United States, and Europe. In Chicago, she has presented her work at various venues, events, and festivals, including the Athenaeum Theatre, Chicago Cultural Center, Chopin Theater, MCA, Ruth Page, Women in Dance, Links Hall, Newport Theater and Dance Chicago Festivals. She has created work for numerous independent performers and artists. She is a recognized educator and has taught for dance companies, private studios, and after-school and undergraduate programs.

In 2022-2023, she was awarded opportunities to work on 'Nyra's Dreams', the play and the short film as a Fellow-in-Residence with High Concept Labs, dancer for camera resident with See Chicago Dance and a summer resident with Chicago Performance Lab at UChicago. 

Direction and Light Design 

Stefan Brun

(Executive Director) Co-founded Prop Thtr with Scott Vehill in 1981 and has directed plays and related performing art events and television in the US and Germany.  He has also continuously designed stage-lighting and been a performer on stage and film.  Together with Prop Thtr, from 1998 on, Stefan took part in the founding and development of the National New Play Network, of which Prop Thtr is a charter core member. Serving as Artistic Director for most of Prop’s 15 year residency on Elston Avenue, he directed many productions including the long running Chicago hit, Hizzoner by Neil Giuntoli. He currently leads Prop’s new “Leadership Team Pilot Program". Married with Jenny Magnus, he is father of Lena.  Stefan is devoted to mentoring and empowering those from whom we have not heard and new works for the stage.

Music- Vocal/Carnatic/Tillana

Sudha Raghuraman

Born and groomed in a family steeped in the traditions of carnatic music, Sudha was trained in vocal music initially by her father late Sri. O.S. SRIDHAR and a year after by her illustrious grandfather Sangeetha Bhushanam Sri. O.V. Subramaniam from whom she learnt the nuances of the art form in a detailed manner. She was also trained in violin by guru late. Sh. V. Janaki Raman. Sudha, in her capacity as a versatile and prolific singer, has performed in various platforms, festivals including Vishnu Digambar Jain festival, Tansen samaroh, Nadaneerajanam, Kumar Gandharva sangeet Samaroh, jayantika for Vasundhara Raje, Pt. Ravishankar Institutes Music Festival, Mauritius Tamil Sangam, Indira Gandhi Memorial Concert, and Sangeet Natak Akadami’s Music Festival, to name a few. A widely travelled artiste Sudha’s creative flair has found expression in her role as a music composer for several dance productions and Carnatic ensembles. She has more than 250 recordings to her credit. Her upbringing in North India has led her to develop a keen passion for Hindustani music which adds yet another dimension to her creative sensibilities. She has been invited to conduct many workshops in Mauritius,U.S.A.,Canada ,Europe ,Australia and several other places. As a composer, she has composed music for classical dance forms held at the Commonwealth inaugural function in New Delhi. In recognition of this she was awarded “ Delhi Yuva kalakar” by Sri.Shanmukhananda sangeeta sabha, and “Chitra Kala Sammaan” by Hindi Sahitya Academy. She is an ‘A’ graded artist of AIR, and recently performed at the prestigious All India Radio sangeet Sammelan and has been impaneled with ICCR since 2003. She has recently been conferred with the prestigious Ustad Bismillah Khan Puraskar by the Sangeet Natak Akademy . . she is currently a visiting faculty member at the Ashoka University, Sonepat where she teaches Co-curricular Carnatic music.

People of Nyra



Jayan Nair

Jayan grew up in an atmosphere of art and culture in a family of artists in Kerala. His brother being a famous singer at P.S.V. Natya Sangam, Kottaikal and his sister is Gana Bhushani- teaching music.
He had his initial training in vocal in Carnatic music from Gana Bhushanam Shri. Sankaar Narayana Nampoodiri in Palakkad. He received his further training in Vocal from Shri. Kumbakona N. Purushottaman in Darpana Academy. Also, he had the opportunity to learn a rare instrument Gottuvadhyam from Shri. Purushottaman.
From his childhood, he has earned many Laurels in the field of classical and light music. He has traveled extensively in India and abroad. Besides he is a versatile artist and plays Harmonium, keyboard, violin, and percussion instruments.
He has composed music for many classical and contemporary productions of Darpana Academy. He has given concerts in Vocal and Gottuvadhyam in all over India and abroad.
He has worked with many international musicians and composed music for dance dramas and music videos. He has also released music albums.

He has performed in Mexico, Peru, and Port of Spain. Performed at Perth festival, Australia, and Art festivals in Singapore and Hong Kong. He has performed in the UK, USA, Canada, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, France, Egypt, Mauritius, Israel, Kenya, China, Japan and Kuwait. Currently, he is the joint Director of Nritya kala Kendra the Dance school in Ahmedabad.

Production Manager

Marlana May Carlson

Bio Coming

Writing Mentor

Arlene Malinowski

Bio Coming

Painting By

Sharvari Kulkarni

Bio Coming

People of Nyra

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

Spence Warren



My name is Spence Warren and this is my bio! I am an artist. I make motion pictures, I make puppets, and I make music. I serve as president of the board of directors for a radical, non-profit multimedia production company called Soft Cage Films. I'm a freelance, commercial Art Director/Prop Master and on occasion, I write about local theater for an online, entertainment magazine called Picture this Post. My aim is to create entertaining, imaginative works that provide an intellectually satisfying experience. My hope is to inspire!

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

Surinder Martignetti


Surinder Martignetti holds a BA in Dance and Theater and a Graduate Diploma in Education from Western Sydney University in Australia. She also holds a Masters Degree in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management from Columbia College Chicago. Surinder has deep knowledge of the Chicago arts community and has served as part of See Chicago Dance in various program management capacities since 2013. Other career highlights include roles with the Chicago Dancing Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Ideas Week, The International Music Foundation, and The Gateway Foundation. Along with her life as an arts administrator, she is a dancer, jewelry maker, poet, and storyteller and also performs under the alias Miss Mittens. 

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

Dancer. Bio Coming

Eva la Feva

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

Azeema Naheed


Azeema is Chicago’s Bollywood Bellydancer! She performs a variety of modern, folkloric, and classical dance styles from the Middle East and South Asia. Her love of the arts began when she became a percussionist at a young age in her hometown of Kansas City. Azeema has performed at numerous arts and entertainment venues throughout Chicagoland, and she has taught dance classes through local organizations such as Kalapriya Center for Indian Performing Arts and Red Clay Dance Company. Find out more about Azeema's work and upcoming performances at:

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

Yana Atim


Yana Atim, spiritually known as Yana-gi Alnitak ze Ori and musically known as Momo-dono, is a performance artist and integrative healing arts practitioner who honours their indigenous roots within the work they do. Please check out Momo-dono's latest track, currently released on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, Hold. Your. Tongue. 

Nyra's Dream (Short Film)

David Stout and MaDula Hara


MaDula Hara is a multi-sensorial collaboration dedicated to the transformative potential of sound featuring performers, Malia Luna, and David Stout. The duo draws on the heritage of global musical traditions in a contemporary context, combining the freedom of vocal improvisation within a seamless meld of electronic and acoustic soundscapes. Malia is a multimedia artist, traveler, and an energetic alchemist. Her creative passion finds expression in her singing, songwriting, and the magical art of ritual tattooing, which she offers globally as she travels. She has been working with the healing power of intentional tattooing since 2017, weaving in her gifts of voice and light language to create a deep transformational experience. David is a visual and sonic artist, performance director and digital filmmaker exploring the synthesis of new forms across the arts. He is recognized for works in cinema, installation and intermedia environments integrating immersive projection as an extension of performer, audience, and architecture. He is cofounder of the seminal interactive media ensemble, NoiseFold, whose multi-screen performances, installations, and sound works have toured worldwide. Together, MaDula Hara creates music as living prayer, an interdimensional transmission; a bridge to connect with the ancestors and the elemental energies of nature. Holding sacred the knowing that as we create, we weave the voices of many realms; ancient and universal.



Translates to 'Servant of God'

Temple Dancers

The profession of a Devadasi was prescribed more towards arts- music and dance hence during India's colonization, Devadasis were being recognized as 'Temple Dancers' by the English-speaking British rulers.


The name of Indian Classical dance form originating from Southern India


The name of a state in Middle India


The name of a state in South India


The name of the native language spoken in Karnataka


The name of a religion practiced in Indian culture, mostly geographically found in the country of  India.


The name of the national language spoken in India


Translates to 'child' in Hindi


I wish I had a factual date to subscribe to the origination of the Devadasi system but there is none. I am as curious as you are. It is believed to be an ancient practice active during the medieval times. It's quite possible that its origin dates before that. The Classical dance form of 'Bharatnatyam' is said to have been born out of this practice though there is no factual data that can be stamped as the origin time of birth of the dance form of Bharatnatyam either. It is an ancient Indian Classical Dance form preserved through the passing of knowledge from one generation to the other.  

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