World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Athira Pratap

Dance Origin:South India
Choreographer: Bindu Pratap

First Appearance in SF EDF: 2009

Bharatanatyam is a classical, devotional, dance form that developed and flourished in the temples of Tamil Nadu in South India. It is the oldest of all classical dance forms in India - a dance of mind and soul, known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and statuesque poses. It uplifts both dancer and the beholder to a higher level of spiritual consciousness.

At age seven, dancer Athira Pratap was awarded first place in the North American Classical Talent Search conducted by Asianet (Indian TV). She placed second in the India Waves World TV's non-classical talent search and Tri-City's (Alameda) Young Artist Showcase winners of 2007.

Ohm Kaara was choreographed by Bindu Pratap, mother of the dancer, herself a highly accredited Bay Area dance choreographer. Bindu began learning classical dance under the guidance of her guru, Meera Nambiar, disciple of renowned Padmabhushan Dhananjayans.


Title: Ohm Kaara (The Eternal Voice)
Bindu Pratap
Athira Pratap

Ten-year-old Athira Pratap performs a pure bharatanatyam dance. She depicts Saraswathi Devi, the Goddess of Knowledge, and Mahishasura Mardhini, Shakthi, the Goddess of Power.

Ahtira's dance tells a traditional Indian story—the origin of the Kollur Moogambika temple in South India, built in honor of Saraswathi Devi. Once, Sage Adi Shankaracharya appealed to Devi Mahashakthi (mother goddess), to accompany him to his home state, Kerala. The goddess accepted his wish on one condition—that she would follow behind the sage and he was not allowed to look back. Sage Sankaracharya walked in front, and he kept a short enough distance between them so he could hear her anklet bells jingling. Before he reached the town, the sound of the Devi's anklet bells stopped. The confused Sage looked back. The Devi told him she would stop on this spot, and this is where the temple stands today. In the second part of her performance, Athira depicts the Goddess of Power, Shakthi, who is the center of universal motherhood. This ending celebrates universal equilibrium: because evil cannot take over and good manifests in different forms, the universe balances itself.

The dance song, "Amma Aananda Dayini," is a classical varnam (the centerpiece of a bharathanatyam concert). It has been re-composed by world-renowned musician Padma Vibhushan Dr. Balamuralikrishna as classical fusion and was recorded in India with both western and eastern instruments.

The dancer wears a specially-made bharatanatyam costume of brightly colored silk, bordered by gold thread work. Her limbs are adorned with traditional jewelry made of semi-precious stones set in gold leaf. Her single long braid is decorated with flowers, and her ankles are circled with bells to emphasize the rhythms of her feet.

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