A Unique ‘Twinkle Toes’

At nearly every talent show on campus, Indian dancers bring a piece of their culture to the stage to enlighten and entertain the community.. In Saturday night’s Rabbot Cabaret, Pooja Sripad and Nandini Vijayakumar stood out among the myriad of performers by breaking away from the usual American music performances. In a recent interview with Sripad, she offered some background information on her involvement in the art and how it connects her to her Indian roots. Phillipian: Like other Indian dancers that have performed throughout the years, you and Nandini made this complicated dancing look very natural. How long ago did you begin training in order to become so comfortable on your feet? Pooja Sripad: I’ve been dancing informally all of my life, leading to my interest in Bharatanatyam, the style you saw in Rabbot Cabaret. I began training around the age of nine. Phillipian: It sounds like you have a very diverse background in dance. Do you have a preference of form? P.S.: Not especially. I practice many forms. I love Indian dance, both classical and folk. Phillipian: What compels you to pursue Indian dancing in particular? P.S.: Dancing and performing gives me a sense of cultural identity. It sets me apart from other performers in the community and allows me to express my strong connections with my background. Phillipian: What other performing arts connect you to your culture? P.S.: My interests center around dancing and singing Indian songs. There is an evident relationship between the two that allows me to access both. In my studying, I can join other people with similar interests that share my bond with India. Phillipian: What is the importance of joining with others in your passion for Indian expression? P.S.: It is from others that I learn more about my culture. They expose me to different styles and help me improve my own. Phillipian: Where do you go to seek such knowledge? P.S.: I travel to India each summer to work with a teacher there. We work on my dancing and I’m now learning how to choreograph modern folk dances. Phillipian: What do you plan to do with your ability to choreograph? P.S.: It gives me the chance to create my own dances to present. For events like Rabbot Cabaret, I can fashion a dance to cater to that.