When we think of dance in mainstream corporate entertainment, specifically in North America, we rarely expect to see representation of Indian classical dance forms. Certainly, Bollywood styles have now become very prevalent and en vogue, but the mainstream awareness of the classical forms is still relegated to a niche, and somewhat exotified specialization.
As a South Asian classically trained dance artist and choreographer growing up in the Canadian diaspora, similar to that of the United States where “classical dance” meant only ‘ballet,’ there was always a struggle of having to clarify what Bharatanatyam was, and how, no, it wasn’t the same as ‘bellydance.’ There was a certain self-consciousness and self-worth associated with continually having to validate and explain the many years of dedicated rigour required of one’s art form and I would often find myself wishing I had trained in ballet instead. Because at least then there would be an unquestioned validation.
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