Jewels of the Tanjavur Tradition: Live Music and
Dance of Southern India
Imagine, suggested Anuradha Naimpally at the start of the concert, 18th century Thanjavur, the arts-rich district in southern India, where Naimpally's guru's grandmother was a devadasi, a temple dancer. To aid us in this exercise, she presented a music ensemble from Chennai, India. Purna Bajekal's voice was youthful and clear, a foil for brief moments of sagelike wildness in the performances of her mother. Swift circlings of Naimpally's arms, tracing hemispheres from back to front, right and then left, seemed to access generations, as though the rings of the tree were made visible. When mother and daughter switched places, Bajekal's dancing was pure, confident glee, the geometry and art of ages newly secured under her intelligent and benevolent reign.
The continuum is mother-child, and guru-student, but it's wider than those, too. I noticed Gina Lalli, the octogenarian who introduced Austin to Indian classical dance in the Seventies (and also known as the sidewalk psychic in Slacker), sitting alone in the audience. Her spine is no longer easily coaxed to straighten, but she erected herself for the dance performances. In 2010, Naimpally invited Lalli to take part in two multigenerational performances: Lalli's movements were limited but expressive, and the teenage Bajekal debuted on the scene. The dance continues, now and indefinitely, without Lalli. After the show, the white-haired Lalli slowly rose, leaning on a cane, to pay her respects to the younger generation, stewards of a beloved art into the future.
Anu is ever-ready to open up performance and learning opportunities for her students,...
Anuradha Naimpally has been enriching the cultural diversity in Austin, TX and across the United States and Canada for the past 25 years. She brings a very unique, multi-disciplinary approach to one of the world's oldest classical dance forms (Bharatanatyam), and has made it her focus and priority to bring exposure to it across a wide variety of audiences.
Anu Naimpally is a performer, educator and choreographer who is very sensitive to the context in which she practices and propagates her chosen art form. One of her foremost priorities is always to make the art accessible to the viewer, no matter their level of familiarity. She successfully adapts ancient technique and vocabulary to contemporary themes and presentation and is an excellent communicator, both verbally and visually.
I have been a student of Anu Naimpally for about a decade now and have benefited immensely from her presence in my life - as a teacher and mentor for dance as well as personal growth. She is especially good at deconstructing the technique in a way that makes it easy for the adult brain to absorb and execute. Anu is ever-ready to open up performance and learning opportunities for her students, and I have had the personal pleasure and honor of performing for various events in the Texas area and attend master classes with other established dancers under her nurturing support.
Anu’s mastery of her art is legendary in Austin...
ALBERT CANTARA, PHD
I am honored to write this letter in support of Anu Naimpally’s application for funding. Not only have I seen her perform on numerous occasions over the years, but was pleased to have her perform at First Night Austin when I served on its board of directors.
Anu’s mastery of her art is legendary in Austin and it is exciting to see her be at that stage of her career in which she is both performing and training the next generation of India-inspired dancers in our community. Given the growing population of those of Indian heritage in our city, it is enriching to all of us to have someone of Anu’s caliber transmitting to and interacting with, Central Texas artists and audiences. Too often, it seems, community events lump distinct cultures under the umbrella heading of “Asian” or “Hispanic”, but this lack of specificity ignores the great diversity within those overly broad categories. Anu not only is an ambassador of Indian culture in Austin, she blends and juxtaposes traditional dance structures with new and eclectic forms such as “Bollywood” images and themes. Her art then is very much alive and dynamic, authentic and multi-layered, not mere Disneyfied historical reenactments.
Anu has performed before small audiences and in front of hundreds, perhaps thousands. Her poise and talent never disappoints and she is always a pleasure to deal with. She takes what she does very seriously (even when humor is expressed) and the audience is immediately aware of her artistic integrity. Obviously, Anu not only performs solo, but collaborates and teaches as well, inspiring others to learn traditional Indian dance and to connect those forms to other cultures and the 21st century.
From my perspective, Anu Naimpally is a master of her art form and the Indian community in Austin, the State of Texas, and the United States deserves to have one of its premiere artists be supported and featured.