CHENNAI: Bharatanatyam dancer Anwesha Das travels over a 1,000 miles a year — back and forth between the US and India — all for her passion for the art. While she is busy giving performances in Texas and California during the summer and spring, she is back in India during the fall and winter. “Awareness through performances is necessary for the art to thrive. More the number of performances, more the reach. And more the appreciation from the audience, more artistes would perform. It is a cycle,” says the Seattle-based dancer. “While the Chennai audience is learned, I want to give performances even for others who know little about dance, so that they become aware of it,” she says.
This dedication had her receiving the Nandanamamani title — one of the top titles given to dancers who excel in the field — from Kartik Fine Arts, recently. The recognition now rests on top of a pile of awards which Anwesha has received over the years, a few of which include Best Dancer (Aradhana Thyagaraja, Cleveland, US) and Nritya Shiromani (Utkal Yuva Sanskrutik Sangh, Cuttack, India). “But the award from Kartik Fine Arts is special because I have been associated with them since my arangetram in 2000, and have been performing for them regularly. I had also received the Natya Chudar award from them 10 years ago, when I was still a young artiste,” she says. “This award is a milestone in my career, my guru Urmila Sathyanarayana had received it several years ago,” she adds.
Anwesha has been trained in Vazhuvoor Bani by Urmila, who has been her teacher since 1996. She moved to the US in 2007 to do her MBA, and worked as a Business Analyst till 2010, balancing dance and corporate life. “But I realised that I couldn’t take two-months off and come to India for my performances. That’s when I decided to focus on dance completely,” she says. While she is not performing, she teaches small batches of children, back in Seattle.
Motivated with the recent award, she says that she would love to perform more in Chennai sabhas. For Margazhi season, she will be performing for Kartik Fine Arts, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, on December 27. “I will be doing a margam, the regular repertoire of Bharathanatyam. I will also be doing a small piece, Dhumaka Chalatha, for my baby boy. He is at that stage where he is just starting to walk,” she says.