At a time when most young people today do not seem to care about our heritage and culture, two dancers in the US are doing their best to safeguard the tradition of Indian classical dance.
Navya Natarajan and Anwesha Das are currently in Visakhapatnam to participate in Bharat Nrityotsav, an international classical dance event. Navya who was born in Chennai studied microbiology to make a career out of it. But she quit soon to take up Bharatnatyam, which had been a part of her life since her childhood. “I felt my heart was in Bharatnatyam. Though I tried to build a career in microbiology, I later found that I was not able to do justice to it. And one fine day I decided to quit and take up dance which was a hobby for me in my childhood,” says Navya from California.
Navya is also happy teaching and passing on the ancient art form to the next generation in the US. She says any art form, especially classical dance, could change one’s life. She has been teaching dance for seven years in California now.
“Classical dance, or for that matter any Indian art form, would bring some discipline in one’s life. It would change one’s life for the better. One will be focused in life, which I myself experienced. And I see these kids and their parents so enthusiastic towards classical dance that they feel secured in a foreign land. And I derive great pleasure in it,” she adds. Anwesha’s tale too is quite similar to that of Navya’s. Born in Odisha, Anwesha now teaches Bharatnatyam in Seattle.
“I feel happy and take pride in safeguarding Indian culture by teaching Bharatnatyam to kids. Even parents feel that this is the best way to re-route their wards towards Indian culture,” says Anwesha, who did her MS in marketing and MBA in the US. Anwesha says that she knew that her career was a stopgap option and she took up a job only to be financially secure. She later quit and started exploring her roots. “I wanted to be associated with dance since childhood. Jobs initially were just to settle down. But later I quit and took up Bharatnatyam full time,” adds Anwesha.