For Aparna Satheesan, Indian classical dance is something significantly more than a skill or a hobby.
It’s a passionate expression of life.
“Indian classical dance is more than just movements of the body,” said Satheesan, a native of India who moved to the U.S. in 2011. “It ties back to our rich culture, to our history. We use expressions and hand gestures to narrate stories to the audience. Dance has no boundaries, and you keep learning something new every day. Dance is like meditation to me. It touches my soul.
“That is why I love dancing, and it became part of my life itself.”
Few express the art form better than Satheesan, a 31-year-old Carmel resident who recently received the prestigious Abhinandan Saroja National Award, presented by the National Institute of Indian Classical Dance in India.
One of a host of Indian classical dance honors Satheesan has received through the years, the Abhinandan Saroja National Award is presented to “eminent dancers for their notable excellence in choreography, performance and contribution in promoting and preserving the traditional classical dance forms of Indiana,” according to the National Institute of Indian Classical Dance.
A former Greenwood resident who moved to Carmel in 2017, Satheesan was presented the award by legendary Bharatanatyam dance artist Padma Bhushan Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan during a Nov. 15 virtual ceremony.
A lifelong dancer, Satheesan took her first Indian classical dance lesson as a toddler and is proficient in several forms, including Mohiniyattom, Kuchipudi, Ottam, Thulla, Kerala Nadanam and Bharatanatyam.
“I started learning Bharatanatyam at (the age) of 3,” Satheesan said. “Ever since then, I was in love with the art form, which made me not restrict myself with just one dance form and eventually started learning other dance forms.”
A senior software engineer at Proofpoint, Satheesan and her husband, Hari Prasad, have a 1-year-old son, Aarav Prasad. Hari Prasad is a software engineer at Salesforce.