Bharatnatyam Guru: Priya Krishnan {Spotlight}

Priya Krishnan is a Bharatnatyam dancer and teacher and runs Sindhura School of Dance in Northern VA. She lives with her husband and two children in the area. Read more about her below!

1. When did you start your dance school and describe your first year?

I started teaching dance when I first arrived in the country in 1989 teaching at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. I taught Indian classical dance in exchange for attending a class in modern dance and Ballet offered by the Department of Music and Dance at the University. That’s when I realized that I really loved teaching dance and was hooked. I haven’t given that up even after all these years though I did take several breaks to raise a family as well as dealing with health issues. Over the last ten years or so I have become increasingly more passionate in teaching dance and now with my children all grown up and out of the house, I am totally committed to this effort. I am finding that there is nothing more satisfying then teaching dance, at least for me. It is my true calling for sure!

2. Who are your gurus and how did you start dancing?

My guru was Bharatha Shikamani Smt. Padmini Ramachandaran of Natya Priya Dance Institute in Bangalore, India. I started learning from this teacher from the time I was 9 years old.

3. One dancer/musician who continues to inspire you. 

My guru has always been my inspiration and will continue to be. She was the most talented and amazing teacher one could ask for. Even though she is no more, her passion, talent and drive to keep this ancient art form alive will always be an inspiration to me. I would like to think that I am continuing her legacy by passing on this art form to the next generation of artistes.

4. What are your challenges as a dance teacher (or as a dance professional?)

The most challenging part of being a dancer teacher is to keep the kids inspired and motivated to keep up the practices and give their one hundred percent. I am happy that my efforts at doing so is paying rich dividends and more and more of my students are advancing to higher levels. Also, while they like me to demonstrate to them the moves and I enjoy doing so, sometimes it is a challenge to keep up my body including my overall fitness, flexibility and stamina. In spite of these challenges I find that dance is very addictive despite the challenges and I always find the energy to keep going. My passion keeps me going and I am so glad for that. 

5. Seeing the students perform is always a moment of pride. What is that extra thing they do that makes you feel grateful and happy, and maybe even bring a tear in your eyes?

I love my students young and adults dearly. They keep me motivated and alive even when I am dead tired. Seeing their eagerness, zest, and their ever smiling faces keeps me young at heart and the will to keep going. I always look forward to each and every single class and being in the midst of my dear students. More often than not they make me laugh till I have tears in my eyes. That and the awe in which they look at me when I show them a difficult routine, seeing the pride in their faces when they know they got it, their smiles, their hugs, their brutal honesty, their compliments, and I can keep going and I can’t imagine doing anything else. So much so that I feel it is therapeutic and I sometimes wonder if I need this more than my students.

6. If you had to pick just 3 qualities for a good student of dance, what would that be? 

Discipline – practice make perfect and there is just no way around it just like in any other profession or art form
Team Work – to be a good dancer you also have to work with fellow students, and motivate each other to perform even more gracefully. Many routines are group items and it is imperative to have the rhythm, coordination and precision within the group 
Persistence – The great yogi Paramahansa Yogananda couldn’t have said it better – “Persistence guarantees that the results are inevitable”  This is so true in this case as well as in almost every other profession/art form. 

7. It’s 2029, where do you see your dance school and yourself as Guru?

As a dancer and teacher I hope to be more versatile and adapt to the constantly evolving art form. I really want to be able to reach many more diverse set of audiences using my dance form as the medium and means to address social and cultural differences. I hope that I am able to do so with God’s grace!

8. Finally, what do you hope to achieve with your dance (or dance school) 

I hope that through my dance school I can continue to spread the joy of arts by continuing to teach dance, and more importantly keep this divine art form alive, and keep up the rich cultural heritage of India.

Priya Krishnan teaches at Sindhura School Of Dance

Read other students and teachers of dance from the DMV area: Profiled here! 

Disclaimer: All opinions and words in this post are by the interviewee. The post may have been edited for language clarity, but not for content.

Author: tandavam