Bala Devi Chandrashekar: Inspiring the Future of Bharatanatyam

Bala Devi Chandrashekar: A Lifetime of Passion for Bharatanatyam

Bala Devi Chandrashekar is a renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher based in Princeton, New Jersey. Trained under the legendary Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, she has carved a niche for herself in the world of Indian classical dance.

Bala Devi Chandrashekar dedication to Bharatanatyam extends beyond performance; she is a Professor of Practice in Asian performing arts, intertwining her dance with interdisciplinary research and lecturing.

Bala Devi Chandrashekar: A Journey Rooted in Tradition and Innovation

Bala Devi Chandrashekar’s journey in Bharatanatyam is a testament to her unwavering commitment to the art form. As the Artistic Director of the Shree Padma Nrityam Academy of Performing Arts Inc., she has nurtured countless aspiring dancers. Her school, headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, is a beacon for cultural preservation and exchange, focusing on Bharatanatyam’s rich heritage.

Training Under Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam

Bala Devi’s foundational training under Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, a stalwart in Bharatanatyam, imbued her with a deep understanding of the dance form’s nuances. This mentorship helped Bala develop a unique dance technique that is both seamless and fluid, maintaining the precision and purity typical of classical dance.

Interdisciplinary Approach and Academic Contributions

Bala Devi’s approach to Bharatanatyam is deeply interdisciplinary. As a Professor of Practice, she collaborates with various departments across universities, including Theater and Dance, History, Philosophy, and Linguistic Anthropology. Her curriculum in “Performing Studies” bridges the gap between dance and other academic disciplines, enhancing the understanding of Bharatanatyam in a broader cultural context.

Lecturing and Research

Bala Devi’s lectures and research are integral to her artistic practice. She seamlessly blends the architectural components of ancient temple sculptures—karanas—into her teachings, enriching the academic and cultural appreciation of Bharatanatyam. Her work has been recognized with prestigious grants from state and private foundations, underscoring her contributions to the field.

Acclaimed Performances and Productions

Bala Devi Chandrashekar has graced prestigious venues across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and India with her performances. Her productions are well-researched and deeply rooted in Indian classical traditions, captivating audiences worldwide.

Key Productions

  • Nandanar Charithram: A moving portrayal of devotion and social justice.
  • MLV Favorites: A traditional Margam based on songs popularized by the legendary Carnatic music singer M. L. Vasanthakumari.
  • Krishnaarpanam: A Margam celebrating the life of Lord Krishna.
  • Uddhava Gita: Lord Krishna’s last message, presented in Bharatanatyam for the first time, premiered at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in London.
  • Vishwam – The Omnipresent: Based on the sacred Hindu text Bhagavatham, exploring themes from Lord Krishna’s life, King Mahabali, and Sage Markandaya.

Landmark Performances

Bala Devi’s production, “Brihadeeswara – Form to Formless,” was staged at the UNESCO head office in Paris, reflecting her global recognition. This production, guided by TN Ramachandran and Dr. Kodavayul Balasubramanian, showcases her ability to bring ancient stories to contemporary audiences with profound impact.

Philanthropy and Community Engagement

Bala Devi Chandrashekar’s philanthropic efforts are as commendable as her artistic achievements. She maintains the Sri Rama temple in Umayalpuram, a testament to her ancestral roots in Tamil Nadu. Her annual visits and performances there underscore her commitment to preserving and honoring her heritage.

Leadership and Advisory Roles

  • Honorary Board Member: New Jersey Governor School, New Jersey, USA.
  • Artist in Residence: Princeton University, Princeton, USA.
  • Advisor: Sangam Festival, New Jersey.

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