You could say Uma Eachempati and Mythili Bharadwaj wear many hats.
“If no one signs up for a (dance) workshop, we sign up and do it,” Bharadwaj said. “But we usually get a good response.”
She’s referring to workshops where students who attend learn the unique art form of Indian classical dance known as Bharatanatyam.
Eachempati and Bharadwaj serve as president and vice president of Abhinaya, a nonprofit group promoting Indian Classical Dance and culture that sponsored Saturday's event.
“We try to promote and present to locals, and bring dance workshops to schools,” Bharadwaj said.
And their latest performance was proof their efforts are paying off.
Dressed in traditional garb, the students perform at the packed Des Lee Auditorium of the Missouri History Museum on Aug. 27. Adorned with body jewels, makeup, nosepieces and even special ankle bells, the performers moved across the stage in harmony, combining an unspoken story line with traditional dance numbers.
“The dressing is a specific costume with a lot of jewelry called temple jewelry,” Bharadwaj said. “The bells tap on the floor and go with the dance to maintain rhythm.”
But these performers are no strangers to lessons.
“These children have been learning from (ages) 5 to 18,” she said.
And Eachempati and Bharadwaj said they strive to get more people involved.
“This is typical for Indian culture, but we’d like to spread it into Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian cultures,” Bharadwaj said. “We know what American ballet is, so we want Americans to know what ours is all about.”
Parents also play a huge role in the dance numbers, from bringing the kids to classes to watching performances and encouragement.
“The community really supports the kids,” Eachempati said.
Youth Cast Members:
Megna Atluri, Wildwood
Maheetha Bharadwaj, Wildwood, Thomas Jefferson School
Meghana Bharadwaj, Wildwood, Thomas Jefferson School
Poornashri Malarvannan, Wildwood,
Vinitra Madapoosi, Wildwood,
Haley Mayenkar, Creve Coeur, Parkway North High School
Maya Menon, Creve Coeur, John Burroughs
Trisha Nair, Parkway School District
Shreya Nair, Parkway School District
Krishna Neelam, Wildwood, Eureka High School
Nithya Raman, Wildwood,
Nivedita Prabhu, Fenton, Uthoff Valley Elementary School
Ramya Palaniappan, Ballwin,
Arya Ramakrishnan, Creve Coeur, Andrews Academy
Kavya Ramesh, Fenton, Kellison Elementary School
Hamisni Rao, Illinois
Shalini Rao, Illinois
Shruti Sangameswaran, Wildwood, Wildwood Middle School
Sruti Suresh, Illinois, Centralia High School