A choreographic idea flows only as fast as the initiator can communicate it to bodies and see them realize it.
MARCIA B. SIEGAL
Leela Samson is an alumnus of Kalakshetra. Her seemingly understated delineation conceals a powerful and inspired inner source, which gradually unfolds before the viewer. She is a virtuoso performer and a sensitive interpreter of the nuances of Bharatanatyam. Two significant documentary films have been made on Leela Samson – ‘Sanchari’ by Arun Khopkar and ‘The Flowering Tree’ by Ein Lall. Leela is the recipient of the Sanskriti Award in 1982, the Padma Shri in 1990, the Nritya Choodamani in 1997 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000. She served as Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation from 2005 to 2012 and was Chairperson of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi as well as the CBFC.
Aditi Jaitly Jadeja
Aditi began studying bharatanatyam at the age of seven under Leela Samson. She graduated in literature from Delhi University in 1993. From 1990 onwards she began travelling for performances across India and abroad. In 1996 Aditi spent a year with the UK-based Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, which exposed her to performing arts such as ballet, western contemporary dance, kalaripayattu, chau and tai chi. Aditi has been a member of Spanda since 1995 and is also involved in the management of the Spanda Trust. She has taught dance in Delhi for several years.
Arun K. Velayudhan
Arun holds a post-diploma degree in bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra. His training at Kalakshetra gave him insights into the art form and also an opportunity to meet several senior artists, whom he was deeply influenced by. While at Kalakshetra, he played character roles in Rukmini Devi’s dance dramas. As part of the Kalakshetra repertory, Arun has travelled and performed at venues nationally and internationally. This experience also helped him learn aspects of stagecraft. He has been a member of Spanda since 2013.
Bilva was initiated into bharatanatyam at the age of six at the Rajarajeshwari School of Dance in Mumbai. Subsequently, she trained with Kadirvel Pillai in Mumbai and then Leela Samson in Delhi. She has travelled widely and performed at various platforms in India and abroad. While in Delhi, she also devoted time to teaching the art form. In 2011 Bilva moved to Mumbai, where she worked at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in the dance programme department. She has been a member of Spanda since 2004 and is now based in Chennai.
Christopher was initiated into bharatanatyam by his aunt, Jayalakshmi Raman, at the Kalaivani School of Indian Classical Arts, Western Australia. He came to Chennai in 2005 and went on to complete his post-graduation in bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra. Christopher has performed solo as well as with the Kalakshetra troupe in India and abroad. He has been training in abhinaya with Bragha Bessell. In 2011, he won the first runner-up in the Spirit of Youth event held by Chennai’s Music Academy and performed solo in 2012 at the Krishna Gana Sabha. Christopher has been a member of Spanda since 2012.
Satyapriya Mohan Iyer
Satyapriya’s love for dance brought her from Pune to Kalakshetra, where she was awarded the best student of the year award in 2009 and received a first-class diploma. She also has a post-graduate degree from the same institute. As a member of the Kalakshetra repertory, Satyapriya participated in dance dramas and bharatanatyam margams. She has performed important roles in Sheejith Krishna’s production Masquerade. A part-time teacher of bharatanatyam, she joined Spanda in 2013.
Saisanthosh trained in bharatanatyam at the Bharatha Choodamani with guru Adyar K. Lakshman and Deepa Babaprasad. He currently trains in abhinaya with Bragha Bessell. Saisanthosh has performed at various forums in India and abroad and has worked with several leading dancers. Saisanthosh received the Yuva Kala Bharathi award from Bharat Kalachar in 2012 and the Best Dancer award from the Indian Fine Arts Society in 2010. Saisanthosh has a degree in biotechnology. He joined Spanda in 2012.
Harikrishnan started learning bharatanatyam from Smt. Jayashree in Kerala when very young. He has studied both classical and folk dance forms, including kathakali, kuchipudi and ottamthullal. He later specialised in bharatanatyam and received a post-graduate degree from Kalakshetra. He has performed at several prestigious platforms including the Konarak Dance Festival, Delhi’s Ananya festival and at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai. Also a teacher of bharatanatyam, Harikrishnan has been part of Spanda since 2012.
Ashwini began learning bharatnatyam at the age of seven from Jayanthi Subramaniam. She has also trained in abhinaya with guru Kalanidhi Narayanan. Ashwini has four master’s degrees – in Economics, Fine Arts, Professional Accounting and International Finance. She is the recipient of several honours, including the Best Dancer award from the Indian Fine Arts Society, the Lakshmi Viswanathan award from Krishna Gana Sabha, Natya Chudar from Karthik Fine Arts, Yuva Kala Bharathi from Bharat Kalachar as well as a scholarship from the Iyal Isai Nataka Manram. Ashwini has been a member of Spanda since 2013.
Bhavajan Kumar is one of the most sensitive Bharatanatyam dancers of his generation. Blessed with a captivating stage presence, precision in movement and a deep devotion to the art form, he is a natural artiste. Continuing to grow artistically under the guidance of Leela Samson, under whom he has matured, he also works closely with Jyotsna Narayanan. He has received several honours for his dance, including the Vazhuvoor Ramiah Pillai Endowment, the Pandit Durga Lal Endowment, the Kelucharan Mohapatra Endowment from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, and Yuva Kala Bharathi from Bharat Kalachar. Bhavajan has performed and toured extensively with Spanda Dance Company since 2014.
Season is a talented young artiste from the state of Kerala. He began his training in dance at the age of ten from his paternal uncle Chittur Babu, and became proficient in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali. He received the title of “Kalapratibha” from the Kerala District Youth Festival 2005. After enrolling as a student in Kalakshetra, he secured roles in many of their dance dramas and travelled with the company extensively. After graduation in 2010, Season continued his training under the guidance of Sheejith Krishna. Currently he is an active member of the Spanda Dance Company since 2018. He is also an able nattuvanar, teacher, stage designer and choreographer for both classical and folk forms.
Athul graduated in 2018 from Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai. He has performed many roles in various dance dramas as part of the Kalakshetra Repertory and toured extensively over the world as its member. He joined the Spanda Dance Company in 2018 as a member. He has received the Sri Gutty Vasu Memorial Prize from the Madras Music Academy as well as several other awards for his solo performances.
Aryamba was initiated into Bharatanatyam at The Temple of Fine Arts, Coimbatore. Developing a keen interest in the art, from what started out as an activity after school, led her to Kalakshetra Foundation in pursuit of her High- School and Post Diploma education. She was actively involved in Kalakshetra’s performing repertory donning key roles in several productions across the globe. In recognition, she was adjudged the All Rounder and Best Outgoing Student in 2017. Having received ICCR’s national scholarship for dance, she continues to hone her skill in abhinaya with Smt. Bragha Bessell. Besides presenting solo performances, she has been a member of the Spanda Dance Company since 2019.
Shruthipriya Ravi is a disciple of Smt. Nithyakalyani Vaidyanathan, initiated into the art of Bharatanatyam by Shri J. Suryanarayana Murthy. Currently she is also refining her abhinaya under the guidance of Smt. BraghaBessell. Shruthipriya has rendered numerous solo performances across India and around the world, in addition to her gurus’ productions. She has also worked with several luminaries in the field of dance. She has been a part of the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival for several years. She was with the troupe ‘Bharathanjali’ touring USA under the banner ‘AIM FOR SEVA’ during 2015 & 2018. She has been bestowed with several awards & has been a member of Spanda since 2018.
Earning laurels at a young age in both Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam, Aishwarya then shifted from Kerala to Chennai, completing her Post Diploma from Kalakshetra. During her time there, she performed as part of the Repertory of Kalakshetra Foundation and played several lead roles such as Shakuntala in Shakuntalam, Saraswati in Saraswati Antarvahini, Kurathi in Kutrala Kuravanji, as well as multiple roles in the Ramayana series. Apart from presenting solo and group performances, she is currently involved in teaching dance to young students. She joined Spanda in 2019.