World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Shreelata Suresh

Dance Origin: India
Choreographer/Soloist: Shreelata Suresh

First Appearance in SF EDF: 2009

Bharatanatyam is a South Indian classical dance form. The name derives from bha for bhava (mime and physical expression), ra for raga (song), tha for thalam (rhythm), and natyam (dance). Ancient story claims it originated with Lord Shiva, and ancient artworks show how it developed and flourished in the temples of Tamil Nadu in southern India over two thousand years ago. Traditionally, young maidens called devadasis (servants of God) danced this form in praise and prayer, and to tell ancient Hindu stories.

Shreelata Suresh is trained in both bharatanatyam and kuchipudi Indian classical dance forms. She studied in India with Vyjyantimala Bali, and presently studies with V. Krishnamoorthi of New Delhi, whose unique and innovative choreography has encouraged her to create a distinct style of her own. Shreelata has given numerous stage and TV performances, dancing in most regions of the globe. She has received many awards for her efforts to restore and share the sacredness and spiritual significance of South Indian dance. Shreelata is also a contemporary teacher of bharatanatyam in the pure classical style. She founded Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy to promote peace through dance and other allied arts and to help dancers find joy and a higher expression of their true self through dance. 


Titles: Jathiswaram, Pushpanjali
Choreographer/Soloist: Shreelata Suresh

In honor of People Like Me's 15th Anniversary (World Arts West's arts education program), Shreelata Suresh performs as a soloist in the abbreviated version of Return of the Sun, the story of Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess. She adapts two bharatanatyam dances for her role as Goddess of Dawn.

Shreelata's first piece is Jathiswaram (danced to create the mirror for the Sun Goddess), an example of the pure dance form of bharatanatyam. Usually danced as the second piece in a performance, the choreography is simple, introducing the audience to basic movements and postures. As the dance progresses, the dancer performs increasingly complex steps, displaying her skill. Jathiswaram is based on Carnatic music—the South Indian classical music using composed melodies, ragas, and improvisation—and the dance follows the improvised melodies of the musicians. This form originated with dancers who loved the exceptional beauty of Carnatic music, and wanted to respond to it with their own art form. In Jathiswaram, the dancer blends sequences of rhythmic syllables—expressed in footwork, gesture, and posture—that follow the instrumentalists' rhythmic cycles and melodic phrasing.  

Shreelata's second piece, Pushpanjali, (danced to entice the Sun Goddess out of her cave) is another bharatanatyam pure dance item. In Sanskrit, pushpam means "flower" and anjali means "offering with folded hands." Here the dancer offers flowers to Mother Earth; then she offers her respects and invokes the gods controlling the eight directions. She offers respect to her guru as well as respect and welcome to the audience. The dance concludes with pure dance movements in a rhythmic sequence.

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