Monday, August 13, 2007

About Natyananda Dance School and Company

Natyananda Dance School and Company, founded in 1978, performs both traditional and original choreographic works in the classical Bharatanatyam style of Southern India. Through student, professional, and guest artist presentations, Natyananda promotes understanding of universal artistic and cultural themes, while showcasing the rich and unique heritage of Alabama's Asian Indian-American community.

In 2003, Natyananda celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a gala multicultural arts festival, featuring the international acclaimed dancers Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan and the Bharata Kalanjali musicians.

Among Natyananda's members, seventeen students have presented very successful arangetrams in past years. One more will present hers in 2014.

The work of Natyananda has been supported in part by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA); the Alabama State Foundation for the Humanities -- a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham; Compass Bank; State Farm Insurance; and Alabama Power. Long-time supporting organizations include: the Children's Dance Foundation; the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Birmingham; the Indian Cultural Association of Birmingham (ICAB); the Indian Cultural Association (UAB); and the UAB Department of Humanities.

Sheila Rubin, founder/director of Natyananda, studied and performed Bharatanatyam for twelve years in India. The Indian press gave her dance the highest praise in her years as a member of the Bharata Kalanjali Dance Company. In her subsequent years, her performances have not only taken her from the East to West coasts of the United States, but also to Europe, Central America, and the Bahamas. Here in America, she has been acclaimed as a dancer whose artistic integrity and personal warmth of expression easily transcend all barriers.

In 1987, funded by a grant from ASCA, she began to research and create new choreography, stretching the limits of this precise and well-developed art to clarify and communicate essential human truths. This work bore fruit in the production of dances and dance-dramas exploring inter-religious, moral, philosophical, ecological, and social themes. By creating new choreography with Spanish, Middle Eastern, African, Russian, Irish, and modern dance artists, she has also explored and expressed artistically both commonalities and contrasts between cultures.

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