BWW Interview: BHARATANATYAM expert Priya Venkataraman who performed in front of Barack Obama talks about the art form
Dancer and choreographer Priya Venkataraman was a 7-year-old little girl when she took her first steps towards Bharatnatyam. And even though Priya was able to learn the craft early in her life, she advises everyone who is interested in the dance form not to think it ay be too late for them to take it up. An advocate for adults learning the beautiful craft as a way of escape and meditation, Priya indeed knows that how this classical dance form can holistically heal the soul.
Priya is a disciple of 2013 Padma Bhushan recipient Saroja Vaidyanathan and has performed the dance form in various historical places in India.
She has also performed in front of world leaders like none other than Barack Obama during his visit to India in 2010. Priya spent 12 years in the United States teaching and informing people about the art of Bharatnatyam through her dance school Kalakriti. Priya's experience in theatre extends to acting in a nationally televised serial and choreographing for a play by Terrance McNally staged at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
Priya is currently gearing up with 50 of her students to perform at Gurugram later this month in a program titled Dance Kaleidoscope. She takes some time off to have a quick chat with BWW on Bharatnatyam.
Tell us about Bharatnatyam as a dance form.
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest classical dance forms in India. Has its origins in Tamil Nadu but today perhaps is one of the most practised styles of classical Indian dance worldwide. Bharatanatyam has very linear, geometric movements, percussive footwork and expressive mime.
It is a discipline that needs years of practice, what makes it so unique
To me what makes it unique is the fact that it's a total mind body workout. It's the spiritual aspect of the dance that makes it unique.
What would you want the western world to know about this classic dance
That the art of Abhinaya or mime transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. It's this aspect that differentiates Bharatanatyam (or any other indian classical dance style for that matter) from a western dance style like ballet for example.Tell us about your stage performances and which ones have remained favorite and why?
Performing in temples like Khajuraho, Konark, Chidambaram etc has been very special for me....it embodies the "old & New" in a way!
Which western dance forms you follow and why?
I love watching tap dance shows (like Riverdance); and flamenco. Probably because of the rhythmic appeal.