When it comes to building bridges between East and West the world could use a few more Navtej Johars . . . It was more than an culturally enlightening evening, it proved to be an artistically satisfying as well. Johar proved gifted at both pure dance and the expressive "story dance." . . He literally filled the room with the presence of the two lovers, depicting Rama’s tender care with especially expressive and minute facial movements of the eyes and nose, all a quiver with a languid and longing desire.
Marianne Rudnici, The Ann Arbor News, 1986
Indian dance artist Navtej Johar treats us to a work with such cool elegance............with fellow male performer Lokesh Bharadwaj [the two] take on the female roles and offer a slow-burn sensuousness from start to finish. . . Johar’s predominantly measured and acutely slow choreography [is] positively hypnotic . . . Frenemies transmits sensations to full effect . . .The tensions between the two roleplaying dancers are subtle, and the menace simply simmers — but they are there.
Mayo Martin, TODAY online, Singapore, July 4, 2015
The fact that we experience Johar’s need for an explosion viscerally and that the explosion itself has the quality of consummation makes Johar’s Dance Works, one of the few truly modern, angst ridden interpretations of classical dance in our time.
Shanta Serbjeet Singh, The Hindustan Times, Nov. 1997
The new confidence is not so much about technique or repertoire, it is about dancing well. Navtej has brought into this form an aura of other worldliness. . . [he] shows how thin the dividing line between madness and genius can be. . . Navtej has surpassed himself.
Ashish Khokhar, The Times of India, Nov. 1997
I can’t help but gush about . . . the duet of doomed love performed by Navtej Johar, Sikh bharatanatyam dancer of mature years opposite a young dancer Anil Panchal, was searing in it’s intensity: it’s beauty and emotion could burn a hole . . . The added visual depth of the partner’s contact work to their existing vocabularies of bharatanatyam and chau gives the performance a universal language. We need to bring the production of Fanna Ranja Re-Visited back to the UK for an extensive tour. Promoters help!
Sanjeevani, Pulse Asian Music and Dance, UK, 2010
[F]ew dancers attain that inner growth which alone gives to the dance that sense of discovery. Navtej Johar is one of those rare Sikhs doing Bharatanatyam, who has managed to experience that visceral communication with one’s inside through the dance. Sublime and ecstatic in Radha’s recollected image of Krishna. . . the dancer’s rendition had a beatific quality.
Leela Venkatraman, The Hindu, Feb. 1996
Trim but commanding, Johar radiates charisma and dominates the work. His controlled bharatanatyam training yields a crisp attack – with pounding footwork, he cuts through the space with the precision of a surgeon’s knife. . .But he also exhibits consummate grace. His delicate, filigreed gestures rivet the eye with their clarity.
Paula Citron, Globe and Main, Toronto, Aug 15,2010
Rage Buried in oceans of calm: The dance duet by Navtej Johar and Lokesh Bharadwaj was an unhurried, restrained meditation, punctuated by bouts of ferocity......While in the hands of lesser performers, this stillness may have been tedious, in the masterful hands of Johar and Bharadwaj, the quiet was deafening.....Johar is a mesmerising, feline performer with fervid, glittering almond-shaped eyes that smouldered and chilled with the seasons. Bharadwaj, though smaller in stature, came across as the more physically imposing....Though Johar's choreography may have been clean and plain, the authority displayed by the dancers - and the seamless connection between them - made Frenemies a must-watch
Lisabel Ting, The Strait Times, July 4, 2015
What Navtej achieved in his performance was a stiff brushing away of the cobwebs of imagery that Bharatanatyam had acquired over the recent years. And in abandoning its decorative aspect Navtej happened upon its design, its taut geometry, its power of suggestion and communication without drowning in spiralling contexts and syntax. It is in this vein that Navtej’s varnam became an exercise in joy . . . a tour de force.
Shani, The Pioneer, New Delhi, Nov. 1997
Navtej’s abhinaya is exceptional. It has a depth and a dignity, a maturity of its own.
Ashish Khokhar, The Times of India, 1994
Looking like a veritable flying messenger from Heaven, Navtej Singh, showed himself to be a dancer not afraid of listening to the voice of silence. . . [he] gave to the performance a rare power. . . There is a raw masculinity in Navtej’s dance which the dancer never tries to prettify.
Leela Venkatraman, The Hindu, Dec. 1994
He is a purist’s delight. With his clean lines, agile body and abounding energy Navtej Singh poured out his creativity. . . His mature handling of the sahitya is coupled with a deep and emotional blend of complete ‘bhakti rasa’. . . the aesthetic experience of pure joy is felt while watching Navtej dance.
Alka Pandy, Chandigarh Tribune, Jan. 1994
To "see" the face of Radha of the Gita Govinda. . . through the facial forestry of Navtej was verily a look into the heart of Radha. . . With total absorption in the Sahitya, with inner clarity and understanding of the subliminal restraint that classical dance requires, Navtej made the item live and glow.
Shanta Serbjeet Singh, The Hindustan Times, Feb. 1996
In form alone, Navtej triumphs . . .[his] Bharatanatyam is soaked in bhakti . . . His face and dance register an inner stillness akin to a yogi’s--something difficult to attain in dance, the art of motion.
Ashish Khokhar, The Times of India, 1996
Navtej Johar, a maverick Bharatanatyam dancer who threw everyone in a light hearted spin with his modern dance.
Shanta Serbjeet Singh, The Hindustan Times, Oct. 1993
The dance duet saw Johar and Bharadwaj work through the medium of Bharatanatyam, internalising the form to such an extent that the viewer knew it was there and yet it seemed to have an elusive presence...... Also evident in the performance was the dancers' tension with Bharatanatyam, a love-hate relationship of sorts, that was somehow implicit in the very title Frenemies. ........ at [one] point it became so clear that the devadasi can never be extricated from the dance form, even when the dancer (Johar) is wearing a sleeveless white cotton dress cut a couple of inches above the knees with his grey hair, beard and moustache in place. The costumes were simple and highly effective......Also Bharatanatyam, that initially came across as being elusive, had actually maintained a constant presence in a multitude of ways
Nirmala Sheshadri, Dancer-Choreographer-Researcher, Singapore
Watching Navtej perform on stage, one senses almost a metamorphosis of his body, finely tuned with the emotion and gender of the piece.
Asit Jolly, The Asian Age, Feb. 1994
Navtej’s images are imaginatively conceived and admirably strung together.
Chandigarh Tribune, 1982
It’s pretty revolutionary to have traditional Indian dance performing ANY narrative beyond the Mahabharata or the Ramayana.....and here Navtej Johar and Lokesh Bharadwaj are doing a queer play about two queer maids who want to murder their mistress. Every movement seems borrowed from classical dance, even the strange moments where they tremble holding teacups or cradle forks and platters. Even as (particularly when?) they dominate one another, asserting mastery and servitude….They become one another’s nawabs and slaves, one sitting and gazing imperiously at the audience while the other fans the other, like something out of a Mughal miniature…..It’s queer rather than gay.....Yeah, not a gay pride thing. This show isn’t proud of male-male love. It’s interested in how (when?) it doesn’t work......But that moment towards the end, where they move into a divine pair, standing, progressing slowly towards us as if in a dream or mist, like a god and his consort…
Ng Yi-Sheng, Singapore International Arts Festival Blog, July 3, 2015