Pranati Ahuja ~ Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation Scholarship
My name is Pranati Ahuja, and I first began learning Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form, with the Arathi School of Dance under the tutelage of Guru Smt. Alpana Jacob, at the age of six. Back then, I had always dreamt of being a dancer, but I didn’t fully realize what I was getting myself into – dance turned out to be something that I would treasure my whole life. Over the past ten years of my training, dance has taught me not only about my culture, but also quite a bit about myself. I’ve learned that dance is not just an art, it’s a passion. I stayed with my Guru Smt. Alpana Jacob for five years, and have been studying dance under Guru Smt. Revathi Satyu since then.
I recently performed my Arangetram, or solo classical dance debut, in July 2011, under the direction of Guru Smt. Revathi Satyu, and held this event as a fundraiser for the charity organization, Akshaya Patra, raising $1031 sufficient to feed and support 67 needy children in India for an entire school year. I have participated in numerous productions and workshops with the Arathi School of Dance, and these productions inspired me to use my passion for dance for a good cause. Since all the proceeds of our production tickets went to Akshaya Patra, both my younger brother and I quickly became involved with the organization, and decided to make a difference on my “big day”. I hope to continue to use my dance as a tool to bring joy to others.
My Guru, Smt. Revathi Satyu, has always encouraged me to extend myself to new opportunities, wherever they presented themselves. Thanks to her, I’ve had numerous opportunities to take summer workshops and intensive training under renowned artists such as Nirupama and Rajendra, Shijith and Parvathy Nambiar, Priyadarshini Govind, and Dr. Vasundhara Doraiswamy, during their visits to Dallas. I have been Arathi School of Dance Scholarship Recipient for 2012, and my experience with Dance Council was amazing!
I was encouraged to apply for the Indian Cultural Heritage Foundation Scholarship, because I want to learn from artists in India in the pure, traditional discipline, and even explore other classical dance forms like Kathak. Whenever I see these artists perform, I always long to go to India and learn dance from experienced dancers like them, because each teacher has specific attributes to mold my dance style. I want to expose myself and grasp such wonderful opportunities which will help me take my dance to the next level.
Arangetram was just a starting point for me, and I aspire to expand my horizons in dance over the next few years!
"Dance is beyond form and gender." This is the beautiful philosophy that
Dr. Seshadri Iyengar imparted during his summer 2013 workshops in
Dallas. I had the privilege to be a part of 3 workshops conducted by him
and spent a total of 3 weeks training under his
guidance. With each workshop, I learned some fascinating things about
dance which I had never considered before. For example: modern Bollywood
dancing may be closer to the guidelines of the Natya Shastra (the
ancient Indian treatise on dance) than Bharatanatyam, the form of dance commonly practiced
today which is thought to contain all that is Indian classical dance. I
learned that any type of dance step can be elegant, depending on how
the dancer decides to portray it. Yoga was threaded into the workshops,
and Dr. Iyengar urged us to maintain a focus on breathing patterns
while dancing. In his Abhinaya workshop, Dr. Iyengar stressed that
Abhinaya (the expressive portion of Indian classical dance) is not about
expressing emotion as a dancer, but about conveying emotion as a human
being. He urged everyone to make their expressions more understandable
to the common man, so that at the end of the day, each person in the
audience could leave the performance hall feeling touched in some way.
My 12 years of dancing have done me a great deal of good, and the
dancing that I did this summer was so much different from what I've ever
done before. I was awakened to so many nuances of the great Art that we
call Dance. Being a part of Dr. Iyengar's workshops and choreography
this summer of 2013 has taught me, as
Graham put it, "Dance is just discovery, discovery, discovery!" On an
ending note, I would like to thank my Guru Smt. Revathi Satyu for always
encouraging me to challenge myself and for being so supportive of me as
a dancer. This years ICHF workshop was outstanding - here's to many
more years of dancing!