#Starworld: Decade of dance prompting Dhanasekar’s vision for future

Sally Parampottil

Sally Parampottil, Executive Editor-in-Chief

Years ago, a young girl in Chennai, India watched dancers perform Bharatanatyam, a form of classical Indian dance. After moving in third grade to Texas, Coppell High School senior Sowmeyaa Dhanasekar has spent the last decade learning the art. 

Now, she is an advanced Bharatanatyam performer and assistant teacher at Natyam Dance Academy in Valley Ranch. 

Bharatanatyam has multiple levels of dance, and Dhanasekar is learning varnam, an excerpt of which is performed in the video above. When one reaches a specific advanced level, there is a final six-hour arangetram performance, which symbolizes a level of mastery for a solo dancer.

“I don’t really want to do an arangetram [now] as I feel there’s still so much more for me to improve stamina-wise, energy-wise and dance-wise,” Dhanasekar said. “I have a dream of doing arangetram in the future.” 

Dhanasekar earned a level one certification in Bharatanatyam through the dance academy last year, and she is working on a level two certification this year, a junior level certification. The process for being certified includes two portions of a test: a practical exam with the actual dance movements and a written theory portion that tests learners on the history of the dance, as well as its expressions, hand gestures and types of music items. 

Beyond Indian dance, Dhanasekar has taught herself hip-hop and pop styles for fun. 

“Learning the traditional style, I was able to develop grace, energy, as well as persistence and accuracy,” Dhanasekar said. “By learning Bharatanatyam and really having the body composure, you can definitely do other dances. Hip hop and all the other dances, it’s a bit easier to learn compared to Bharatanatyam. For me to get all the way to this level took me 10 years, and I’m still not perfect.” 

Dhanasekar intends to continue dancing and mentoring others. As an assistant teacher since seventh grade, she has experience working with both younger and older students.  

“I definitely see myself as a dance teacher,” Dhanasekar said. “In the future, I really want to continue the history and art to the next generation.”

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