Shakthi Sees Shakthi In Academics & Artistic Pursuits

Toronto-based Bharatanatyam dancer Shakthi Sanjana Seerala, speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, tells youngsters to prioritise their passions, even amid academic pressures. Armed with an Electrical Engineer degree in hand, Shakthi says: “While my engineering profession offers intellectual fulfilment, dance provides emotional and spiritual satisfaction. It’s crucial to recognize that both academic and artistic pursuits can co-exist harmoniously, enriching one another.” The Bharatanatyam dancer says that engaging in dance instils discipline through rigorous training, while teaching the value of dedication and perseverance. “It constantly teaches one to work hard without immediate gratification, fostering resilience, a crucial trait for navigating life’s challenges. Additionally, through portraying diverse characters and situations, dancers develop empathy, enhancing their understanding of the human experience. It’s a holistic journey that nurtures both the mind and soul,” she says.

Performing @ Diverse Locations: Shakthi states that performing in diverse locations such as Toronto and Prince Edward Island in Canada, as well as cities across India like Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai, has undoubtedly enriched her dance journey with a variety of experiences and audiences. She has performed at various events in Toronto such as Menaka Thakkar Dance Company for the Kalanidhi festival and Samagamam, a performance by Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon. She also works as an assistant dance teacher at Bharathalaya Dance Academy in Toronto, Canada. 

The dancer says that however, it was her Arangetram in Chennai at Bhavan’s Mylapore, in 2018, that holds a truly special place in her heart. “The auditorium of Bhavan’s Mylapore, where I first stepped onto the stage in kindergarten, was an incredibly nostalgic and profound full-circle moment. Dancing in the vibrant cultural hub of Chennai, the Arangetram performance was not just about showcasing skills but also about celebrating the deep-rooted connection to my art and the places that have shaped my passion,” she says. 

Memorable Experience: On her performance for the first-time in Hyderabad, on World Dance Day, this year, Shakthi says, “It was a truly memorable experience.” She further says: “The atmosphere was electric, filled with excitement and appreciation for dance from both the performers and the audience. Being part of a celebration that honoured dance in all its forms was incredibly inspiring.”

According to Shakthi that one memory that stands out is the sense of unity and camaraderie among the performers, regardless of their dance styles or backgrounds. “It was a reminder of the universal language of dance and its power to bring people together. Another memorable aspect was the opportunity to showcase Bharatanatyam in a new setting, surrounded by the vibrant culture of Hyderabad and the artistic space of Shilparamam. The atmosphere was infused with creativity and appreciation for diverse artistic expressions, creating a truly immersive experience,” she says, quickly adding: “It was a cherished moment that reminded me of the joy and passion that dance brings to my life.” She goes on to say, “It was a celebration of creativity, expression, and the beauty of movement, leaving me with memories that I will treasure for years to come.” 

Dance Footprint: Recalling her dance footprint, the Bharatanatyam dancer says, “In kindergarten, I performed my first dance to AR Rahman’s popular song “Humma Humma” as part of a school competition. The thrill of the experience was so overwhelming that I insisted on keeping the dance costume on for the rest of the day. This prompted my mother to recognize my innate interest in dance, leading her to enrol me in Bharatanatyam classes at my school in Chennai,” she says. Working as a senior circuit design engineer at Synopsys in Toronto, Canada, Shakthi shares that although she enjoyed dancing, she had to give it up after Class VIII as her focus shifted to academics.

On returning to her first love dance – the practice of Bharatanatyam as an adult after more than a decade, Shakthi says: “It brought in a new perspective and motivation towards Bharatanatyam.” Revealing her heart, the Toronto-based dancer, says that delving deeper into the practice revealed layers of meaning and depth that had eluded her before. “The deeper levels of body awareness, emotional expression, and day-to-day stress relief that Bharatanatyam provided became pivotal factors in deepening my interest in the art form. Not only did it offer physical benefits, but it also served as a profound form of self-expression and a means of finding inner balance amidst the demands of daily life. Incorporating Bharatanatyam into my routine became more than just a hobby; it became a vital aspect of my overall well-being, enriching both my body and spirit,” she says.

Learning Curve: Recollecting learning dance under different gurus, Shakthi Sanjana Seerala, says that it has been an enriching experience. “Each guru brings their unique style, perspective, and teaching methods to the table, shaping not only my dance technique but also my understanding and appreciation of the art form. Under each guru, I’ve had the opportunity to explore different nuances of Bharatanatyam, discovering new depths in expression, rhythm, and storytelling,” she says. 

The artist says that during her childhood, she had the opportunity to train under Smt. Sharadha in Chennai and Smt. Shailaja Krishnadas in Kochi, which shaped her basic foundation in Bharatanatyam. “Re-entering the world of dance after nearly a decade was quite a journey, and having the guidance of Guru Smt. Nivedha Ramalingam was pivotal in revitalising my abilities. Not only did she assist in reconditioning my body for dance, but she also played a significant role in refining my technique,” she admits. The dancer mentions to what made this experience particularly special was due to her relationship she enjoyed with Smt. Nivedha, both as a mentor and a friend. “This distinct relationship allowed for a sense of ease and understanding, which proved invaluable as I navigated the challenges of re-immersing myself in the art form as an adult,” Shakthi concludes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap