Dance: Padma Academy
What is Bharatanatyam?
Bharatanatyam dance is an ancient, highly evolved and codified expression of bhakti or devotion. It is a prayer, a means of spiritual enlightenment, connection to the creator, spiritual enlivening of the audience, and a dovetailing of mind, body, and spirit in the service of the Supreme Lord. Padma Dance Academy offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced level Bharatanatyam classes taught by Champakalata (Yamuna) Fiorentino, disciple of Natya Veda Bharati Sudha Chandrasekhar.
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest and most celebrated dance forms of ancient India. It is dedicated to the praise of God through the depiction of stories, philosophy, and devotional feeling. Originally, about 2,000 years ago, it was performed exclusively by Devadasis, women who danced as an offering of bhakti or devotion to God within the confines of temples. However, in recent times, Bharatanatyam has come to the world stage and become one of the most popular classical Indian art forms.
“Bharata” can be broken down further to disclose the elements of classical dance. The first is “Bha” which stands for “Bhava” or emotion as it is expressed. The second is “Ra” which stands for “Raga” or melody. And the third and last part is Ta” which stands for “Tala” or “rhythm.”
There are three aspects of classical dance:
- Nritta – pure dance movements and techniques comprising postures, footwork, rhythm and timing
- Natya – elaborate facial expressions or “Abhinaya,” combined with hand gestures or “Hasta Mudras” that convey various moods or “Bhavas” (drama)
Nritya – a mix of Nritta and Natya combining rhythm with drama.
Regularly performing as part of spiritual and cultural events in Hillsborough, North Carolina, the students of Padma Dance Academy inspire their audiences in spiritual life and meditation on the divine pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna.
In Hillsborough, at the New Goloka Temple (school building) Sunday 4pm
In Cary, Monday 5:30pm
1. In Hillsborough, at the New Goloka Temple (school building) Sunday 3pm
2. In Cary, Monday 6:30pm
3. Online, Thursday 6:30pm
Class fee: $60 per month or $150 for three months
Contact Campakalata: 858-762-3609
About the Director
Champakalata (Yamuna) is the director of the Padma, Inc. Cultural Mission, which includes Padma Dance Academy.
Born Yamuna devi dasi in 1978 to Urmila devi dasi and Pratyatosa dasa, she lived with a pre-school or gurukula (bhakti school) literally in her home from the time she was two years old. When she was eleven she began to regularly help with secretarial work and teaching of the younger students. When she graduated from secondary school at the age of sixteen in 1995, she started teaching at Padma Inc. full-time. Champakalata has taken many professional teacher training seminars, workshops and college courses to increase her academic knowledge and teaching skills. She married Mayapurcandra das in 1997 and received the name Champakalata when she took initiation from Bir Krishna Swami in 1998.
She completed her Bharatanatyam Arangetram (dance debut) at Duke University in August, 2002, under the direction and guidance of her dance gurus, Sudha Chandra Sekhar and Geetha Murali of Hindu Temple Rhythms. Her dance gurus are coming in line from the famous dance maestros, Govindaraj Pillai, Kuppiah Pillai, Mahalingam Pillai, and K. Kalyanasundaram of the dance school, Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kala Mandir, in Mumbai, India.
Champakalata is often invited to temples, schools, universities, and cultural and social events both to perform traditional spiritual dance and to teach the meaning, role, and effect of aesthetic discipline in developing love for the Supreme Lord. She and her students perform at various spiritual and cultural events throughout the year, and meet at least twice a week for training, research, development, and practice.