South Indian Bharatanatyam dance
Vidhya Subramanian of Cupertino, CA, is a master artist of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance from South India. She began her Bharatanatyam dance training at the age of eight and has trained in the city of Chennai, a hub for South Indian classical arts, under traditional gurus Padma Subrahmanyam, S.K. Rajarathnam and Kalanidhi Narayanan. She performed her arangetram (debut solo) at the age of 16 in 1984.
Bharatanatyam is a genre of classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu, India. The performance repertoire includes Nritta (abstract movement), Nritya (expressive dance), and Natya (dramatic dance). The style is noted for its araimandi or the flexed-knee position, intricate footwork, sophisticated vocabulary of hand gestures, eye movements and expressions. The dance is accompanied by Carnatic classical music. The repertoire or margam usually consists of alaripu, jatiswaram, shabdam, varnam, padam, thillana, all of which navigate and intersect between abstract and expressive components.
Throughout her life, Bharatanatyam has been a sister to Vidhya, a solace in times of need, a strength throughout, a form of meditation, and a joy to experience for no reason. According to her, the dance “has taught me discipline, poise, perseverance, grace, and is often how I express myself best. The underlying approach to my art is the belief that life must be allowed to permeate art as art permeates life.” As an artist with an active touring calendar, she constantly comes in contact with artists and students from all over the world and witnesses the preservation as well as evolution of the art form in a variety of ways. Vidhya teaches actively in the Bay Area, and she has also started an organization called Kala Vedika in the Bay Area to build a bridge between performers and audiences to foster a deeper understanding of Indian classical dance. Dancers and students of dance who don’t have the opportunity to travel and see work in different places are able to develop a close connection with such work through performances, Q&A sessions, and classes.
Under ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program, Vidhya will help apprentice Kaavya Venkataramanan prepare an entire margam or traditional repertoire, which will culminate in a solo performance in the Bay Area. The margam includes all aspects of Bharatanatyam, including abstract and expressive elements. Their training will focus on compositions depicting AshtaNayika Bhava, or the eight types of heroines and their stages of love as described in the ancient Sanskrit text called the Natya Shashtra.