Shreelata Suresh

South Indian Bharatanatyam

Master South Indian bharatanatyam dancer Shreelata SureshBharatanatyam, a classical dance form of India, orginiated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  It is one of the oldest dances of India, thought to be more than 2,000 years old.  Graceful movement, mime, and music contribute in equal measure to this dance.  Speaking a universal language of gestures, replete with diverse moods and emotions, the dance essentially brings to life the glorious sculptures of the temples as well as the mythology of the land.  Indian dance is above all religious and, in the past, was performed strictly in the temples by the devadasis, female dancers who were attached to the temple hereditarily and dedicated to the God since childhood.  Today, Bharatanatyam has also migrated from temples to the stage.

Bharatanatyam is comprised of nritta (body movement and footwork patterns), nritya (emotion conveyed through hand gestures and facial expressions), and natya (a storyline and the element of drama).  Proficiency in the art is attained only after several years of intensive training, at which point a student is ready to 'ascend the stage' (arangetram) and present a concert-length solo recital to the public.

Shreelata Suresh has studied classical Indian dance since the age of six.  She has trained with Vyjayantimala Bali, Ramaswamy Bhagavathar, Kalaimamani K. N. Dakshinamurthy Pillai, and presently studies with V. Krishnamoorthi of New Delhi.  She has performed Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi (another form of Indian classical dance) in over 20 countries.  In 1999, she opened the Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy in San Mateo.

Shreelata was a master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2013, working with her young apprentice Ananya Ram, investigating the musical tradition that is sustained within the apprentice’s family to create new choreographies within the Bharata Natyam tradition.

Shreelata was a master artist in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program in 2011, with apprentice Ganesh Vasudeva.  The apprenticeship focused on Ganesh’s intensive research of the Tanjore style of Bharatanatyam, resulting in deepening Ganesh’s theoretical and technical knowledge, as well as the performance of several rare choreographies.

In 2009, Shreelata participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program  with apprentice Ambika Gopalan.  Their apprenticeship focused on nritya and was grounded in interpreting the oeuvre of Tamil Nadu poet and freedom fighter Subramaniya Bharathiar.


Click on any image to view slideshow.

Shreelata Suresh (left) and her 2009 apprentice Ambika Gopalan (Edward Castai, 2008)
Shreelata Suresh (middle, seated) and her 2009 apprentice Ambika Gopalan (Photo: ACTA)

Related categories