Bharath Ram 14 ~ Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation Scholarship
I am a 14 year old born in San Antonio, TX, to Indian Immigrants who love art in all of its forms. I have been learning ‘Bharatanatyam,’ the ancient classical Indian dance form from South India, for the last 7 years, at the Arathi School of Indian Dance and Kalalaya Indian Performing Arts.
At the young age of three, I was discovered by Guru Rajam Ramamurthy at the Arathi School of Indian Dance. She was able to recognize my interest, and convinced his parents to enroll me in the dance school. She taught me the basics of the art form and the last 7 years I have been learning from Guru Kausi Subramaniam.
For the past year, I have learnt dance from Guru Kausi Subramaniam at the Kalalaya School of Indian Performing Arts. In my dance experience, I have performed in productions such as Chandanbala, La Meri, kavita and Dashavatara. I am always eager to show my dancing skills at year round events in the community such as Folk Life Festival, Indian & Asian Festival, Luminaria, and other charitable and promotional events. Aside from dance, I also learn the ‘Mrudanga’ (an Indian drum), the Carnatic violin, the Western violin, and Taekwondo. At school, I am an Honors student and participate in Boy Scouts, National Junior Honor Society, Academic UIL, MathCounts, Honors Orchestra, the Debate Team, and Tennis. In 2010, I was a District 9 first place winner and a top ten finalist for the citywide talent search competition. In 2011, I won this talent competition which carried a $1000/- cash prize and a trophy.
In 2010, I participated in the Josh Dance Talent Competition, and won first place at the state level and was a chosen finalist at the national level in New Jersey. In addition, I was also selected as one of the top ten finalists at the international level for the famous Tyagaraja Aradhana Dance Competition at Cleveland.??I am very proud of my Indian heritage and like to combine Indian art forms with his American way of life. I love spending time with his family who are from Bangalore and can understand and speak ‘Kannada’ the language of ‘Karnataka,’ a southern state in India. I am a freshman at Health Careers High School.
I gave my Bharathanatyam Dance Debut performance at Carver Community Center on August 13, 2011.
This summer, I used the Dance Council of North Texas scholarship money to learn the Indian classical dance form called ‘Kathak’. This is a style from northern India that is based in ‘Hindustani’ music. Usually, I perform Bharathanatyam, a south Indian dance style based in ‘Carnatic’ music. It was a great surprise to me to learn how greatly different Kathak is from Bharatanatyam, starting from the basic steps to the stance and to the music. It was very interesting and enjoyable experience to learn from eminent teacher of Kathak in Bangalore, Guru Ms. Nirupama Rajendra. She is a great teacher. She was able to teach me a lot and adjusted to the speed and way at which I learn. Although I learnt one full dance item, I am yet to perform it. Hopefully, soon I will be able to perform in an event.
In this dance style, there is a lot of spinning on the heel, which seems and was difficult in the beginning. However, after a couple of wobbly turns, I was finally able to turn completely on my heel, creating my first breakthrough moment in Kathak! Typically, most spins happen in a counter-clockwise direction, though occasionally, I had to turn clockwise, which was almost impossible. Even now, I find it difficult to spin clockwise on my left heel. However, my teacher was impressed with the pace with which I could learn the Kathak moves and she even said that for a normal student it takes several months to learn what I could in thirteen one hour classes spread through two month period. On few occasions, I was also able to learn from and interact with an assistant teacher in the same dance school. As I was also being part of several Bharathanatyam dance productions in Bangalore, I did not have too much time to make many friends in the ‘Kathak’ dance school. I did compensate for the same by making lots of friends in my other school where I did productions.
I would definitely recommend this scholarship to any student, as it greatly benefitted me and opened me up to a different style of dance. While my first step is to perform the item I have learnt, I plan to go back in the next summer to learn more of Kathak. Also, during the rest of the year I plan to work as an assistant to my teacher in my dance school and hope to be able to choreograph new dances.
~ Bharath Ram