The first post in Stylewhack’s Empowered Women Series, where we bring stories of everyday women who have imbibed the meaning of ’empowered’ in their own personal way. Today we bring you the story of Aishwarya Venkat, who feels empowered via the medium of dance.
Dance is a way to find yourself and lose yourself .. all at the same time!
This quote was probably phrased just for me. I started learning the classical Indian art form of Bharatnatyam since an impressionable age of 6 years. My family being typically South Indian, always encouraged me to learn the classical art forms of music and dance with sincere reverence and dedicated practice. My life till I went to college completely revolved around going to school, coming back, heading for 3 – 4 hours of dance sessions 3 days a week alternating with music classes and weekends boosted by watching performing artists in some of Chennai’s popular recital houses. Each year passed on with more accomplishments in the art form, winning scholarships, touring many cities performing solo recitals and gaining accolades without really understanding how it was changing me as I had never given it a serious consideration as a life changing gameplay.
Working as a Marketer and dealing with changes post marriage, made dance take a backseat. It was when I moved to the US for the first time years ago that I realized that my life was not what I had envisioned it to be. With a dependent visa there was not much to look forward and after not having a single hour at my disposal I was sitting here spending more than 24 hours at my hand figuring out which direction I should steer my life. That’s when my years of hobby turned into work of passion.
As I started looking for avenues to further my art, I came across some wonderful organizations which involved me into their artistic journey and soon I was venturing into Bollywood dance, South Indian folk dances and semi classical dances with some spectacular dance groups. It was in 2012 when I joined a classical performing ensemble which allowed established dancers like me to be a part of their professional dance shows in the Bay Area, that opened up a new world for me. Stepping in this space got me more networked and get recognized with many artists who were looking to set up their own groups of classical troupe. Thus began my work as a freelance artist/dancer enabling me explore and be a part of prestigious groups and participate in very renowned events like the San Francisco Ethnic dance festival, SF Arts Festival, Stanford Holi, privately organized fundraisers for many independent artists etc.
Today, dance has empowered me to rejoice in a whole new world of working with passionate individuals, carve my own niche in a very competitive space and yet accept with utmost humility the discipline of this ancient art. With a wonderful family who backed me with my crazy schedules and supported by encouraging friends/mentors, I was working in a profession that made me happiest and contented. Dance gave me my identity when I had none – it taught me the result of patience and continuous dedication, it taught me to reflect into my inner self, shaped me, kindled my spirit and made me rise under any pressure. It taught me the power of working with passion. And yet the journey has just begun with so much more to learn, explore and achieve in this deeply rooted tradition that makes me to devote myself and succumb to its divinity.
|Aishwarya Venkat is a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, who is currently a versatile freelance dancer working with many reputed dance companies in the Bay Area, USA. She also teaches dance and music to encourage the love of art in little minds and is a Bollywood fitness instructor. She loves to spend her time when not between rehearsals with her family and working as a Marketer.|