South Indian bharata natyam
One of the seven classical dance forms of India, bharata natyam is representative of the culture of the state of Tamil Nadu in South India. Although it originated as part of worship rituals within the temples and was danced by temple dancers known as devadasis, today the dance form has evolved to become a concert art form.
Ramaa Bharadvaj has immersed herself in this dance form her entire life, having started dancing at the age of four when she was taken as a student by the bharata natyam guru Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai in Chennai, India. Her life here in Southern California is committed to preserving this dance for coming generations. She is founder and artistic director of the Angahara Ensemble.
Ramaa was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2003, with apprentice Shivali Panchal. Of her apprenticeship with Ramaa, Shivali says, “I feel like dance is my right arm. When I wasn’t doing it, I was just always depressed. I would always question myself. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt like wasn’t growing as an individual. I just felt stuck… And so I finally figured out that I needed to start dance again. Dance was my foundation, was who I was.”