This Decade… A Reflection on Kala Vandanam 2010-2019

By Suchitra Sairam

Ends of a year always bring a time to reflect, be grateful for all that has been good, and mull over learnings from things that may not have gone according to plans or hopes. But the end of a decade brings this forward many fold, particularly in the feelings of gratitude for all the gifts we have been given.

At Kala Vandanam, 2010-2019 has been an eventful period, bringing us closer to our art, closer to our community, and closer to each other. Our focus has remained steadfastly on honoring the art we pursue with passion, sincerity, and humility – and we are deeply fortunate that focus has brought us much joy, meaningful experiences, and accolades as well.


This decade has seen us:

CREATE and STAGE our original production, Ritu – The Seasons, created specifically to feature young, rising Twin Cities Bharatanatyam dancers

CREATE and SHARE Natya Gurukulam, an annual residential Bharatanatyam camp since 2018, modeled after gurukulam experiences of arts immersion, helping aspiring students and dancers develop a deeper relationship with their art, and with themselves

CREATE and PRESENT our “Dance Informance” series, highlighting the many aspect of Bharatanatyam through informal, informational performance

CREATE and STAGE collaborative Bharatanayam-Flamenco duets with Sendero Flamenco

STAGE Natya Sadhana, the annual Kala Vandanam student showcase on Vijayadasami day, ten times

SHARE our art across the festivals, venues and schools in the Twin Cities, Washington DC, OH, TX, WI, such as:

  • Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival
  • Como Conservatory – Visitor Center Garden Grand Opening
  • Dakshina Fall Festival of Indian Dance
  • Flint Hills Family Festival
  • Hindu Society of Minnesota events and festivals
  • Melharmony Festival
  • Minnesota Historical Society
  • Metro Green Line Grand Opening
  • Om Shanti: An Ode to Harmony Festival
  • Sample Night Live
  • St. Paul Art Crawl
  • St. Paul Saints – Night Out
  • SV Temple of Minnesota events and festivals

SEE nine students making their entrée as stage performers, completing their Bharatanatyam Arangetram

SEE eighteen students made their initial solo stage performances, completing their Bharatanatyam Salangai Pooja

SEE our students achieving dreams of performing solo concerts at prestigious and personally meaningful festivals and places, including the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival (Cleveland, OH), Sabes JCC (Minneapolis, MN), Kengal Hanumanthaiah Kala Soudha (Bangalore, India), and Udipi Sri Krishna Matha (Udipi, India)

SET an original Bharatanatyam work set on high school dancers primarily trained in western dance forms

PRESENT many Bharatanatyam artists, some rising stars, some stellar senior artists, and some icons, including:

  • Leela Samson and Spanda Dance Company – 2013, 2015, 2017
  • Dakshina Dance Company – 2016
  • Sheejith Krishna & Sahrdaya Foundation – 2015
  • Savitha Sastry – 2013
  • Priyadarsini Govind – 2012
  • Lavanya Ananth – 2011

BE RECOGNIZED for our work through awards and grants, such as:

  • Knight Arts Challenge winner – 2015
  • McKnight Foundation Next Step – 2016
  • Minnesota State Arts Board awardee – 2017, 2018
  • Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival Bharatanatyam competition – solo winners 2014, 2018
  • Saptami Foundation (Dallas) competition – regional and national solo and group winners, 2019
  • Natya Manjari competition – solo and group winners, 2015-2019
  • Nartana Vedika competition – solo winners, 2019
  • Vibha Taal competition – 2012, 2013
  • St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Deubener Award – 2019

There are so many who have made this possible, but at the top of the list must be my family, my gurus and natyacharyas for the gift of art they have given, and the loving, committed students of Kala Vandanam and their families. We are blessed with amazing artistic collaborators, and many well-wishers locally and from afar, all of whom are integral participants in our journey.

THANK YOU for what you have given us – and THANK YOU for your positive energy and good wishes in the journey going forward. May the coming year, and coming decade, be filled with experiences that stretch our minds, imaginations, and talents, and give us deep joy.