US-born Chennai girl proves mettle in Bharatanatyam

Smrithi with the Dhananjayans

Chennai: Smrithi Suresh, a US-born girl with origins in Chennai, could have done her Bharatanatyam arangetram in America. But she chose otherwise and her first solo performance took place here at Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium at Alwarpet on 5 August.

Chennai is considered the capital for classical art forms like Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam. It is here where art originates: Chennai is motherland for that, so I wanted my first solo performance to take place here, she told News Today. Performing in a place known for classical art forms is a matter of fortune, she pointed out.

The performance day will stay fresh in her memory for years to come as she performed under the guidance of her gurus Suganda Sreenath and Shreya Aiyar. Also she got praise from well-known classical dance exponents V P Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan.

“It was an overwhelming experience for me. The more I got into it, the easier it became for me,” said the young classical dancer who has participated in 50 group performances so far.

Standards of classical dance in Chennai are superior, the form of expression, the bhavam technique are more vigorous here, she said. So, to give her best in the solo performance here, the dancer had to rehearse hard for 10 months.

Smrithi’s family

Smrithi derived motivation to learn Bharatanatyam from her aunt Kirthi Ramgopal. “She (aunt) was in USA in 2006 to perform. I saw her performance and got inspired to learn the classical dance form,” she said.

When the young artiste expressed her interest to learn Bharatanatyam, her parents took her to Jaya Kala Kendra in USA where she mastered the nuances of the art form under the tutelage of Shreya Aiyar and Suganda Sreenath. The valuable lesson she learnt from her mentors was that ‘I can be myself, can be unique in my own way and yet pursue my passion.’

The best performance for this young artiste was at Natyanjali held on the premises of University of Sacramento. “I had the opportunity to perform along with my best friends Samhita, Sanjana and my mentor Shreya Aiyar. We were able to give our best performance there.”

While the dancer is keen to pursue dance to the best of her abilities in future, she is also determined to learn Tamil. “I want to learn Tamil for the purpose of communication. This will help me communicate with people here easily,” she smiles.

Smrithi, who will be entering her ninth grade at Wilcox High School, Santa Clara (California, USA), credits her parents, Suresh Lokiah and Priya Cherukuru, for her successes. “They have sacrificed so much for me. They know what is required to be a good dancer and push me to show my best always,” she says with feeling.


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