We had the good fortune of connecting with Arathi Nagaraj and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Arathi, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I wholeheartedly believe that without risk, there are no significant gains. My family and I moved to America in 2006, and it wasn’t until a year later I decided to actually pursue the artform that was near and dear to my heart. In the small town of Collierville, Tennessee, I began by pasting a couple of flyers that read, “Bharatanatyam: Indian Classical Dance Classes” in local grocery stores. Steadily, I received a handful of inquiries and began teaching in the master bedroom of our two-bedroom apartment to about six young girls. What began with a small idea has now blossomed into a dance institution with the capacity of 50 students. The initial risk I took to start a venture as an immigrant in this country is now not only my livelihood, but also my newfound purpose in life. Without risk, the turn of events in my life wouldn’t have manifested as beautifully as they did.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Natyadwani provides classical instruction to young women of all ages in the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam. With focus on technique, we emphasize mostly on clear sounding footwork, precise hand gestures, deep knowledge of technical rhythm, animated facial expressions and the proper understanding of the Natya Shastra (a detailed handbook on the theoretical aspects of all Indian classical art forms).
We set our students up for success by encouraging them to take the Akhila Gandharva Examinations every year. The Akhila Gandharva Examinations are conducted by the Akhila Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, which is an Indian government-affiliated and nationally-known organization that works toward the propagation of classical Indian music and dance. These examinations are a benchmark for students and professionals of the classical arts of India. The students of Natyadwani excel in these examinations every year and set our school at a higher standard.
But more so than the surface level what Natyadwani stands for, I would categorize it as a school that young women seek out to feel their inner shakti, or power. We don’t just build knowledge of Bharatanatyam, but we also give young women a platform to express themselves freely and without inhibitions.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My top three go-to spots for some artistic inspiration:
– Ojai, CA
– West Hollywood, CA
– Santa Monica Pier Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Catherine Heath – https://www.catherineheathcreative.com/about
Aspire Dance – https://www.aspiredancestudio.com
Catherine Heath – https://www.catherineheathcreative.com/