The Nritya School of Dance was established in 1982 and has over 70 students across locations in North Houston, Bellaire and New Orleans.
A great city is defined by the strength of its cultural life. I aspire to add to Houston’s rich culture, by inspiring, educating, and stimulating
the creativity of her young citizens. As a teacher of Bharatanatyam, the classical Indian dance form in the Kalakshetra tradition, I offer my students
a glimpse of a very different place, thousands of miles and thousands of years away from today’s Houston. In addition, Indian Folk Dances are also taught
at Nritya. Through numerous public performances with these students, moreover, I have the opportunity to share this art form with the greater community.
I believe my art has the potential to broaden minds; my ambition is to extend its reach to anyone wishing to celebrate diverse traditions, regardless of
their economic situation. It is my firm belief that a quality arts education, especially for the young, can open a critical gateway to a lifetime appreciation
of and involvement in the arts. I seek to promote the creation and presentation of quality artistic work, and to foster a love for the arts in our society’s youth.
My vision of Houston is a city that prides itself in valuing and encouraging education, diversity, and art. I look forward to participating in the state and
national arts arena on behalf of our great city.
Dance and Music are external manifestations of Man’s emotions and thoughts and it has been said that “the truest expression of a people lies in its dance and its music - bodies never lie!”
Art in India has, in the past, always been a form of worship. The tradition of classical Indian Dance goes back to just before the beginning of the Common Era.
In India dance has been used to express man’s deepest emotions and state of mind. Born and nurtured within the precincts of the temple, Bharatha Natyam, has for
its source the rich treasury of Hindu sacral lore of which it is one exquisite medium of expression. It is meditation in motion, emphasizing concentration and discipline.
This dance form combines the arts of the stage, music, and poetry with pleasing color and vivacious rhythm. All forms of classical Indian Dance consider the two ancient
Sanskrit texts Natya Shastra and Abhinaya Darpana as their source. The former was compiled by the sage Bharata and the dance form Bharatha Natyam logically derives its
name from him. Over the centuries this dance form with variations has spread to Malaysia, Thailand, Bali and Cambodia. In India it still continues its unbroken thread of tradition.
Bharatha Natyam is a highly stylized and esoteric art form and is devotional in spirit and characterized by a harmonious balance of vocal melody, specific hand gestures
and body movements of the dancer - all governed by specific mood, rhythm and beat. The most important aspect of Bharatha Natyam is the language of hand gestures – the Hastas -
which suggest a world of enchantment. The dancer’s technique involves the use of the entire body to the smallest eye muscles. Footwork, hand gestures and facial expression confer
on this art form the quality of a moving poem! The singer is accompanied by a percussionist, flautist, violin and sometimes a stringed instrument called the Veena. The conductor
called the Nattuvanar co-ordinates the beat and tempo of the dance using two small cymbals.
The dance itself consists of two salient features – the pure dance form termed Nritta which serves solely to emphasize the aesthetic aspect of movement and posture, and Natya
the interpretive and narrative component. The latter is presented through the medium of expression called Abhinaya.
This art form was a perennial source of entertainment for the common folk in India in the centuries gone by. A kaleidoscopic presentation of melodious music, esthetically appealing
dance, and narration of uplifting themes from Hindu sacral lore, a Bharatha Natyam performance was indeed a feast for the eye, ear and the spirit. The performers and the audience,
bonded together temporarily by common emotions, almost became an unified entity. This has been very beautifully expressed by Kalidasa, the famous Sanskrit dramatist in the fifth
century C.E., in one of his plays while describing the performance of the dancer thus
“…her limbs are like incarnate words, beat and rhythm issuing forth from her feet, while on her face expression chases fleeting expression – no more an individual dancer or musician
but only a composite of aesthetics and feeling….”
There are at least six exquisite styles of Bharatha Natyam in India and a relatively recent one is the Kalakshetra style which is taught exclusively at the Nritya School of Dance.
This dynamic and brisk style emphasizes the linear and geometrical in movement. The expressions and mime are subtle, covert and suggestive rather than obvious.
My early training since the age of six, in classical Indian dance, was had in India, the country of my birth.
My first solo full length public performance took place when I was twelve years of age. I lived with my husband in
Germany for 11 years and performed extensively in Germany and Austria. I taught Classical Indian Dance in Munich,
Germany and Vienna, Austria for about 8 years. Subsequently, I emigrated to the United States with my family and settled in Houston.
I established a Dance School in Houston which celebrated its 25th year of its existence last year with a dance drama
that I directed and choreographed. My school also has a branch at New Orleans, Louisiana. I have conducted the graduation
solo programs of 60 students so far and choreographed five dance dramas in Houston. During these years I have also performed
in several parts of the USA. I teach exclusively in the Kalakshetra tradition.
In addition to my dance career, I have also acted in major roles in several Tamil plays staged in Houston over the years.
I was the President of a Tamil cultural Organization in Houston – Bharathi Kalai Manram. My school has staged several benefit
dance programs for charitable and humanitarian causes in Houston and New Orleans.
Late “Padma Sri” Adyar K. Lakshman
Director, Bharatha Choodamani,
Academy of Indian Fine Arts, Chennai, India.
Late “Padma Bhushan” Kalanidhi Narayan
Director, Abhinayasudha, Chennai, India.
Specialized training in Abhinaya, Interpretive Dance.
"Padma Bhushan" The Dhananjayans
Directors, Bharatha Kalanjali, Chennai, India.
1982 – 2007
Founder and Director of “Nritya” School of Indian Dance with branches in Houston: Northwest, Sugarland and Sirrom Studio.
Fortnightly weekend Dance Workshops in New Orleans, at “Nritya – Louisiana”.
1972 – 1981
Director of School for Indian Dance, Mΰnich, Germany.
Regular Dance Workshops in the Dramatic Center, Vienna, Austria.
Major Dance Programs and Workshops in Europe
1970 – 1981
Leopold Theater, Mΰnich, Germany
Dramatisches Zentrum, Vienna, Austria
Olympic Summer Program, Mΰnich, Germany
Cultural Forum of the City of Bonn, Germany
Bregenz International Folk Festival, Bregenz,Austria
India Cultural Week, Mΰnich, Germany
Seezentrum Culture Center, Hard, Austria
Dahlem Museum, Berlin, Germany
City Culture Center, Goettingen, Germany
Kulturzentrum, Linz, Austria
Konzerte der Stadt Kleven, Kleven, Germany
Tanzfest Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
Opera Curiosa, Mΰnich, Germany
Austrian – Indian Association, Vienna, Austria
Afro – Asiatic Institute, Vienna, Austria
International Dance Festival, Coenca, Spain
Summer Workshop, Torronteras, Spain
Musik Konservatorium, Bregenz, Austria
1982 ~ present
53 students have finished their graduation at the school
The school has participated regularly in the Annual Houston International Festivals and the Annual Asian – American Festivals since 1982
Performed in the Mardi Gras Celebration, Galveston,TX
Performed in the New Orleans Jazz Festival
Participated in the Bellaire Festival, Houston
Won awards in local and national dance competitions
Performed in several cultural and community organizations in Houston
Conducted dance workshops by renowned Gurus from India
Crime-Stoppers of the City of Temple, TX
UNICEF Program to benefit Bosnian Child victims, Houston, TX
House of Ruth for Homeless Children, New Orleans,LA
For Battered Women at Fort Bend Women’s Center, Houston, TX
For Gujerat earthquake victims, San Antonio,TX
For Katrina victims, Habitat for Humanity, New Orleans, LA
For destitute women and children of Udavum Karangal, Chennai, India
For the Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pearland, TX
Awarded the “Honorary Citizenship” of the City of Temple, TX., by the Mayor (1984)
Proclamation of the New Orleans City Council (1995)
Commendation by Mike Foster, the Governor of Louisiana (1996)
Was acclaimed by the Anchorage newspaper “Critics” as having given the best dance performance of the year in Anchorage, Alaska
Proclamation of Nritya Day by Mayor Bill White, Houston, TX, 2006
Was awarded the title of “Nalla Pennmani” by a leading Women’s Magazine in Chennai, India, 2006
Was awarded an Established Artist Fellowship Grant by the Houston Arts Alliance, 2007
(Own Choreography and production of Bharatha Natyam Ballet with students of Nritya.)
Shakthi Houston (1989)
Krishnanjali Houston Tx (1994) & New Orleans, La (1995) & Baton Rouge, La (1996)
Varunapuri Kuravanji Houston, Tx (March 2006 & June 2006)