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Vaidehi was interested in bharatanatyam from a young age, inspired by her late grandmother Smt Thangamani Nagarajan, a dancer and teacher of the renowned school of art Kalakshetra in Chennai. Vaidehi currently learns under guru K.P. Yesodha from Chennai, under the guidance of her grandmother’s friend Smt Ambika Buch who both also studied at Kalakshetra.

Bharatanatyam is a classical south Indian dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, consisting of pure dance focussed on rhythm and grace, and story-telling and acting. Traditionally, bharatanatyam explores themes from Hindu scriptures and folklore.

Bharatanatyam’s theoretical foundations trace to the ancient Sanskrit text, Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra (its first compilation dated between 200BC and 200CE). Bharatanatyam poses are depicted in sculptures and carvings through temples such as those in Chidambaram and Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, dating back to ~12th century and 6th-9th century respectively. From its ancient form, and after being banned by the British colonial government, Rukmini Devi Arundale, founder of Kalakshetra, was key to bharatanatyam’s evolution and revival.

The main piece of the evening’s program is a swarajathi, which explores a theme through a mix of pure dance and story-telling through hand gestures, facial expressions and acting. The swarajathi that Vaidehi will be performing is Sakhiye inda velaiyil. The piece conveys a woman’s feeling of longing for her Lord Krishna, to her friend (‘sakhi’ meaning ‘friend’). She tells her friend ‘O beautiful friend, don’t play tricks with me at this time, find and invite and bring my Lord to me quickly’. She implores her friend to take her love seriously, going on to describe her Lord Krishna, her love and desire for him and her wishes to be united with him.

The piece is in raagam (scale) Anandabhairavi, set to taalam (time signature) Adi. Choreographed by Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale, music composed by the Tanjore Quartet.

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The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.