Preview: Artist Profile on Vidhya Subramaniam

Credit: S. Anwar

Image Credit: S. Anwar 

Celebrated bharatanatyam exponent, Vidya Subramaniam,is in the UK to give two consecutive performances: Bhavan, London (7th) and Capstone, Liverpool (8th December).  Making her life as a dancer in California, after her move from Chennai, Subramaniam tells Jahnavi Harrison how it at all began.

Most bharatanatyam teachers in suburban America have long since abandoned a performance career. The pressures of family life and the still relative dearth of regular performance opportunities make teaching the children of the Indian diaspora a much more financially viable option. Vidhya Subramaniam is far from average. Both a teacher, choreographer, dancer, scholar and actress, she shows no sign of slowing down. Speaking of her upcoming UK performances and new work, she says, “I feel like a kid in a candy store – I can hardly believe I am able to do this!” 
 
Though her accent is clearly marked by over two decades spent in Northern California, her roots are still firmly planted in Chennai, where she spent her first twenty-one years of life going to school and studying dance with Guru S.K. Rajaratnam. Her upbringing was ‘conservative’, and though her engineer father had dreamed of becoming a professional mridangist, the financial pressures forced him in another direction. He sent his daughter to dance lessons, but told her guru that if she didn’t fare well by the time she reached arangetram, he couldn’t afford to keep paying for classes. “I was not a dream come true for any teacher,” Subramaniam laughs. “I was very annoying and stubborn. If he said smile I would do the opposite.” However, a defining moment came as she began her opening piece on her arangetram in 1984. “I know it’s a cliché, but it was really a moment – I looked out at all these people and I started the pushpanjali and it just hit me that this is what I want to do. After that there were no complaints, no protests.”
 
Jahnavi Harrison 
 
Look out for the full article which is featured in our winter issue, due to be published 15 December 2012. 
 
Subramaniam will perform in London (7 December) and Liverpool (8 December), both events are presented by Milapfest. For further information/booking click here