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Swanuja Godasi: Bharatnatyam Dancer


Dance is used as an outlet to express people’s identities and backgrounds. The many styles of dance provide options for everyone and their interests, such as ballet, jazz, and cultural dances. For many dancers, it is a way to communicate their feelings and thoughts, as well as connect with others on a deeper level. It does not only convey emotions, but it tells stories in a beautiful way that words cannot. All aspects of dance such as body movements, facial expressions, and the rhythm of the music can create a sense of peace, and it allows people to let go and feel free. Beyond simply entertaining, dance can improve your health, both mental and physical, and serve as an outlet for everyone. After being enrolled in dance classes at a very young age, senior Swanuja Godasi soon discovered dance was her passion. She practiced tap and ballet before learning her current style, Bharatnatyam, which she has been practicing since she was six years old. Bharatnatyam is one of the main dances of India and is considered one of the most difficult dance forms. It is prevalent in Southern India, and it expresses Hindu religious themes. As Swanuja stated, “It is an Indian Classical Dance style that originated over 2,000 years ago…The style is very closely linked with Hinduism and Indian culture. Bharatanatyam includes fast foot movements along with storytelling with facial expressions and specific hand gestures.” 

Swanuja performed a solo, commonly done after 10 years of dancing Bharatanatyam. The performance is called “Arengetram” and comes from the Tamil language, meaning “ascending the stage.” It is considered to be a graduation after many years of training and the dancer’s first solo of a full repertoire. Arangetram showcases a dancer’s ability in storytelling, footwork, stamina, and overall ability to dance for two hours. I asked Swanuja how she felt when she received the opportunity to perform, and she expressed, “It felt so surreal to know that what I’d been training for and looking forward to for the past year was actually happening. I was so grateful to be able to fulfill my dream and dance my heart out on stage. It was a little nerve-wracking, though, as I had a pretty big audience.”

When I asked Swanuja what inspired her to start dancing, she replied with, “Initially, my mom registered me in dance classes so I could try it out, but I soon loved it. Throughout the years, my love for dance has only grown. For me, dance is a way to express myself, almost like another language.” From a very young age, Swanuja recognized her immense love and passion for dance and her culture and was able to share it with the world. The best piece of advice Swanuja has received that she applied to her dance training is, “Focus on your own improvement. It can be easy to compare yourself to others, but it is important to realize that comparison is the thief of joy and that ultimately you are dancing for yourself.” Thank you, Swanuja, for being an inspiration to all dancers at ACP and around the world!

Author: María Tapia, Staff Writer

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