Priyanka Melgiri Arathi School of Dance Scholarship
Priyanka, her name a variation of a Hindu goddess, is brought closer to her religion
and culture through her studies and the beautiful meanings of Indian Classical Dance.
Her perfect day— after taking two hours to put on her lavish costume— would be to
relive her solo dance debut.
An aspiring lawyer or doctor, Priyanka hopes to retain her joy of dance by not making it
a “job” but by teaching on the side in addition to her profession.
“Priyanka, move one step to the left; good, now one and a half steps back. Great!” It was
with this precision and care that my workshop directors conducted the dance workshop I
attended this summer. This summer I had the privilege of attending a two- week long
intensive conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Rajendran, renowned Kathak and Bharathanatyam
artists from Bangalore, India. It was an indescribable experience to be able to learn under
such talented artists. From the very first practice to the preparation of the costumes for
our program, Mr. and Mrs. Rajendran took into consideration every minute detail in order
to make our program spectacular. During this workshop, I not only learned how to perfect
my Bharathanatyam skills, but I also gained an understanding of an entirely new style of
Indian dance, Kathak.
Walking into the workshop, I did not know what to expect. This was my second year
attending the workshop, but I was still anxious to know what items we would be performing
for our workshop showcase and fundraiser. Every day for twelve days twenty- one girls gathered
in the Royale Ballet studio for three hours for intense training under these renowned teachers.
During the first half of the day, we worked on Kathak, and through our training I have gained
immense respect for this form of dance. Before attending this workshop I had no idea how
difficult this style of dance was. I had watched Mr. and Mrs. Rajendran perform flawlessly on
stage where they made each pirouette and each step look so easy. But little did I realize that
this style requires a person to concentrate on and gracefully do intricate steps all while keeping
a pleasant face. For the second half of each day, we worked on preparing a Bharathanatyam
piece for our program. Through this preparation I learned how to express my abhinaya (emotions)
and how to do every step with poise and precision. I also gained respect for how to accurately
interpret your surroundings while dancing with other dancers.
On another note, being able to learn under these teachers was such an honor for me. Mr. and
Mrs. Rajendran’s passion for dance exuded through their care for perfection. During our practice sessions, they would not move on to the next step in the choreography until they were assured
that every single dancer had mastered the step. I remember on one of the days how we spent
almost half an hour trying to perfect only two minutes of the dance. They would not settle for
anything less than perfect. Their goal of perfection even extended to our stage rehearsal where
they wanted everyone to be seen clearly through every distinct window.
Because Mr. and Mrs. Rajendran set such high standards for us, our performance turned out to
be a huge success. I would like to thank them for the amazing experience which they have
given me. I am very grateful that they have shared they inspirational passion for dance with me.
I would also like to thank the Dance Council for giving me the opportunity to learn under such
famous teachers. This summer I had the experience of a lifetime, and I cannot wait until Mr.
and Mrs. Rajendran come back to teach us again!