Bharatnatyam is an ancient dance form of South Indian dating back to the 2nd century BC. It combines three aspects of dance: Nritta, Nritya, and Natya. Nritta is a combination of vigorous, complicated rhythmic footwork. Nritya refers to the danced interpretation of a poem or work of literature expressed as song. Natya is a drama portraying a story or tale through mime and facial expressions by a dancer. This complex art form involves years of hard work, discipline, and dedication. Its motive is to create empathy through emotional unity between performer and audience.
Master Artist: Anwesha Das (Bothell)
Anwesha started her training with Urmila Sathyanarayanan at Natya Sankalpaa, Chennai in 1994. Within a short span of 3-4 years, she was ready for her Arangetram (solo debut). Since her Arangetram, she has been performing for the renowned Chennai Margazhi dance season at prestigious venues in Chennai such as Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, and Kartik Fine Arts, to name a few. She has recieved noteworthy reviews from revered critics in the dance field and has been awarded prestigious titles from leading dance organizations. All of her training has been imparted in the traditional ‘Guru-Shishya parampara’, a lineage of passing knowledge from a succession of gurus to students through oral tradition. Recently, Anwesha had the honor to perform for the ‘Festival of India’ initiative by the Indian Embassy in Colombia. The tour included performances and workshops for dance students from several Colombian universities. Anwesha’s goal is to share and carry forward the richness of Indian culture and heritage through her love for Bharatanatyam.
“The Indian community in greater Seattle has grown in leaps and bounds. These Indian families yearn for access and exposure to the art forms they were surrounded by when growing up in India and are now passionate about exposing their children to these art forms…despite growing up outside of India and being in a Western society.”
Apprentice: Akhilesh Vadari (Redmond)
Akhilesh initially trained under Guru Vidyalakshmi Vinod for eight years. After his Arangetram, he continued his training with Gurus Renjith Babu and Vijna Vasudevan. He was the 2018 National Young Arts Finalist for dance, receiving a silver medal and a substantial scholarship. In addition, he has won several awards at the 2018 and 2019 world-renowned Thyagaraja Aradhana Dance competition in Cleveland. He has performed in a variety of venues, including the Governor’s Award Ceremony, NW Folklife Festival, Seattle Center, International Dance Festivals, Redmond Anand Mela, local Hindu temples, Columbus’ Art Without Borders, as well as Dallas’ Flute and Dance Company. Over the last couple years, he has choreographed numerous solo and group performances, and was the director and producer of two complete Bharatnatyam repertoires as a fundraiser for children with special needs that was immensely successful.
“My mission is to spread Bharatnatyam to Western society so it is easily understandable, appreciated and embraced by everyone…As I grow, I want to use Bharatnatyam in particular, and dance in general as a way to spread awareness in our community about important issues like pollution and global warming.”
Featured image: Portrait of acclaimed dancer Anwesha Das. Siddhartha Saha Photography.