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As a child, I was always fascinated by dance and dancers; by how beautifully every movement conveyed a story or defined space. As a rather obnoxious four year old, I often pretended to be a dancer, wearing anklets and stomping my feet or by wearing flowers in my hair, but becoming a dancer still remained an elusive dream.
Fate works in strange ways and there can be no better example of this than how I met my first dance teacher in an obscure little village called Awarpur in Central Maharashtra. I studied under Shantha Gopinath, an outstanding product of Kalakshetra for two years. It is the discipline, form, theoretical knowledge and above all, reverence for Bharatanatyam that she instilled in me that has stayed with me all these years.
Even as an amateur Carnatic vocalist, I had the unique privelege of working for nearly ten years with my "maanaseeka" guru, Dr. Jayashree Rajagopalan, principal student of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and artistic director of Nrityodaya Mumbai. Under her guidance, I absorbed the aesthetics and precision in the use of body movements and space, choreography for dance theater and music composition for dance.
A life changing moment for me was when I met my current guru - Kripa Baskaran, who has been the strength and soul behind my dance these past 7 years. A stunning performer and choreographer herself, Kripa has led by example and instilled in me dedication, commitment and passion to spread Bharatanatyanm all over the world. I have been fortunate to have assisted in the forming of her dance company - The Natyarpana Dance Company- in 2003. With the Natyarpana Dance Company, I have performed at several prestigious centers all over the United States and also have conducted workshops and lecture demonstrations at UW-Madison and in private and public schools both in Madison and Milwaukee. I was made teaching faculty at Natyarpana in 2007 and completed my arangetram under Guru Kripa Baskaran in 2008.
At present, I am teaching Bharatanatyam in Durham, NC and regularly travel back to Milwaukee for advanced training in Bharatanatyam and nattuvangam.
Bhargavi Devarajan Rao
photos courtesy Abishek Muralimohan
photo courtesy WisIndians.com