Sonia Bhaskaran

  • May 1, 2018

Meet Sonia Bhaskaran(10), who’s been doing Bharatanatyam, a type of classical Indian dance for nine years.

Bharatanatyam is one of the most popular and widely practiced classical dances in India. A highly spiritual and dedicatory dance form, Bharatanatyam roots go back to the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, in South India. The dance moved from temples to theaters over time, but has retained its particularly devotional component, expression of human emotions, and stylized storytelling. In its present form, Bharatanatyam is approximately 200 years old, and continues to evolve as a “living” performance art.

Sonia currently takes lessons from a temple in Pasadena and participates in annual performances, as well as on special holidays and festivals such as Diwali.

When asked how she got into Bharatanatyam, she replied,“Well my cousins did it and really enjoyed it, and my mother was a dancer, so I wanted to try it. It also connects with our culture, which is nice as well.”

Bharatanatyam is a very technical dance form with many different aspects which makes it such a difficult and unique dance.

“It requires a lot of different skills, like muscle strength, speed, but then there are other parts where you try to express some sort of meaning. Then it gets into how you show an emotion on your face, in your hands, and in your body. It’s also very introspective, and I enjoy that,” commented Sonia.

In comparison to other forms of dance, Bharatanatyam is similar in that it requires focus, stamina, and muscle control. Skills learned in other dances could most definitely be translated to Bharatanatyam, and vice versa. However, it is unique because it is as much a form of acting as it is a dance. Not only that, but Bharatanatyam uses movements and hand gestures to tell stories and portray characters from Hindu mythology.

Sonia definitely recommends everyone to try it out since it is a good way to both get exercise and learn about Indian culture.

“It’s a really good experience to have because not only is it good exercise, but it teaches you memorization skills and how to think about your own emotions and be very conscious of that. When we do choreography, we try mixing different forms of dance, so we see how different cultures interact.”

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