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People consider performing for Yuva Bharati an honor… and creativity and innovation in dance can only come through new choreography,” says Santa Dasu, one of the founders of Yuva Bharati. Their upcoming event, Kalpana, features senior and accomplished dancers from across the Bay Area in four different classical forms. “With Kalpana, we are taking great local talent with great ideas for choreography and providing a venue for creativity. Our performers may have studied in India or studied here, but each are given the opportunity to choreograph a new 10 minute item, and we encourage groups to perform,” says Tejaswi Kondapalli, co-coordinator of Kalpana and recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to study Tarangams and Kuchipudi dance in Hyderabad.
“Kalpana means ‘creativity’ and the basic premise is to give opportunities to young and upcoming Indian classical dancers. Traditional pieces are handed down generation after generation, and some can be 200 years old. Young artists don’t have space to showcase their own choreography… and we give them a chance,” says Ganesh Vasudeva, dancer and co-coordinator of Kalpana. Solo artists, including Rasika Kumar, and groups from across the Bay Area are preparing bharatanatyam, kuchipudi, odissi, and kathak pieces for the show. “Schools were writing to us, asking us to give their students a chance to choreograph and perform. We approached senior dancers in the community and asked them to perform, then held an application process for post-arangetram dancers,” says Vasudeva. “I’ve seen this from the start, and we’ve had so many calls and so many applications,” says Kondapalli. “Lots of people think this is a competition, but it’s not a competition. It’s a way to showcase local choreography. There is no other such event, in the Bay Area or anywhere else,” concludes Kondapalli.
Kalpana is sponsored by Yuva Bharati, a non-profit dedicated to supporting local dancers in classical Indian forms. “When we started Yuva Bharati, there was no organization promoting classical Indian dance. There were all these arangetrams, but afterward no chance to perform. Dancers need a chance to perform on a proper stage with proper lighting,” explains Dasu. Yuva Bharati hosts multiple events, including bringing an artist from India each year, but remains committed to supporting classical dancers within the United States. “We are constantly scouting for talent, bringing people from Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, New Jersey, and across California” says Dasu. “We wanted to take dancers post-arangetram and advanced performers interested in taking their dancing to the next level. We bring in talent from all over,” adds Kondapalli.
“Since its founding in 2006, Yuva Bharati has sponsored 30 senior dancers with twenty to twenty-five years of experience and provided 70 dancers post-arangetram with the opportunity to perform. People consider it an honor to perform with Yuva Bharati,” explains Kondapalli. “We have sponsors and memberships, but the organization is totally volunteer run. We have about 20 volunteers per event, and our 30 volunteers put in over 1,000 volunteer hours per year,” explains Dasu. “We also provide a video archive of performances on our website and once a week our performances are broadcast on a local channel,” explains Kondapalli.
Kalpana provides a stage as well as visibility for highly trained dancers and professionals alike. The event also offers these performers the opportunity to create something entirely novel and individual within a very classical form. “We have amazing dancers with a unique perspective and creative thinking. It is hard to get this many different points of view in a single concert. To grow as a dancer one should watch other dancers and learn,” says Vasudeva. To see Kalpana is an opportunity to enter the tight-knit community of Bay Area performers, the opportunity to both appreciate and learn. “We have people with new choreography and a venue to explore whatever they want. It’s not just mythological or religious, it only has to be within the confines of classical dance. There’s the chance to see new choreography that you haven’t seen when you go to other shows,” concludes Kondapalli.
August 3, 4 p.m. Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe Street, Santa Clara. $15. www.yuvabharati.org.