“They are immigrants whose self-esteem stemmed from professional competence and who dreamed of their posterity advancing the American nation that
gave them everything,” Sana Raoof tells
She wrote in the Soros essay, ‘It was
amazing how quickly my family’s immi-
grant status surfaced in kindergarten: I
couldn’t say what I got for Christmas or
Hanukkah, explain how my parents met
(arranged marriage), or wear shorts
(we’re Muslim) — I felt different. Since
they were schooled in India, my family
had never heard of American exams; they
sifted through newspaper education sec-
tions to understand.
Every day, Dada (her grandfather) would
prepare me in public speaking, “reading,
writing, and arithmetic,” and Urdu script.
He’d say, “Even if you are a garbage man, be
the greatest in the whole world”.’
She says he “experienced that America,
unlike India, recognizes the one who has
contributed the most, so I had no excuse
to not be the best. We studied words so I
would win the regional spelling bee
thrice, and pre-calculus so I would take
college math at 14. He took me to librari-
ans and said, ‘Take the initiative,’ so I
would speak up.”
Her track coach Richard Rosen, she says,
trained her to push her limits fearlessly.
“I felt freedom and profound happiness
when I sprinted my heart out at practice,”
she adds. “Mr Rosen also taught me an
essential lesson for life as a daughter of
immigrants: Make it happen. If I wanted
to go away to science camp despite my
family’s wariness, to race in Manhattan
until 2 am, or to wear track shorts despite
Muslim modesty, it was my challenge to
make my family understand my goals so
that they actually encourage me.”
At Harvard College, she says, suddenly
she felt that being a Muslim Indian
American carried a deeper meaning.
“I again felt different,” she says. “I fasted for Ramadan during collegiate track
practice, didn’t drink, and was a religious
physicist. I often found myself at midnight in the courtyard of my dorm, looking at the moon, and thinking of exams,
of God, of Dada studying as an orphan 70
years ago… It was a very testing period.
Just as my parents reacted to immigration, I too sought respect through
Cancer fighter, star debater, trailblazing athlete
The Indian Dance Educators Association — an umbrella organization incorporating Indian dance schools in the Washington, DC metropolitan area —
kicked off its 20th anniversary celebrations with the
Nourish Our Roots dance festival last month at the
Gunston Theatre One in Arlington, Virginia.
Hundreds of Indian classical dance enthusiasts had their
fill of Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Kathak,
showcased in three segments and spanning over six hours.
In Showcase I, Jayantee Paine Ganguly along with a
group of dancers presented a juxtaposition of Odissi and
Kathak in a presentation entitled Krishna Kathak
Madhumita Roy, a Kathak exponent from India, was
part of the production.
The Kuchipudi Dance Academy led by Lakshmi Babu
presented Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet through
The production featured Aneesha Joshi, Manish
Polavarapu, Hanish Polavarapu, Anisha Davis, all college
students, along with other Kuchipudi Dance Academy
dancers. The cast and crew were drawn from
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and
In Showcase II, Kuchipudi Kalanidhi presented Sri
Krishna Leela Tarangini, skillfully depicted by Supraja
Chittari and Deviga Valiyil. Kuldip Pai provided the music
and Kishore Mosalikanti did the choreography.
Srabanti Roy of Roomjhoom Nrityalaya presented a
comparison and contrast —accompanied by live music —
of Bharata Natyam and Kathak with the Spanish flamenco.
Roy effectively danced the Kathak part while Jaya
Mathur performed Bharata Natyam. Joya Shrivastava provided the vocal accompaniment, while Marsha Bonet performed flamenco.
The Natyabhoomi School of Dance artfully combined
contemporary and traditional dance forms in a tribute to
‘We wanted to use a universal theme that would resonate
with the mainstream audience and yet showcase the elegance and depth of Indian dance forms,’ said Deepti
Mukund Navile, chair, IDEA, and founder of
Natyabhoomi, who conceived and directed the production
with her sister Shruthi Mukund, artistic and outreach
There were 18 dancers in the production including
Shreya Navile, Thaara Shankar, Nirupa Balendran, Pallavi
Malla, Ankita Reddy, Taanya Puthran, Lasya Komaragiri,
Trisha Miglani, Emily Bittle, Madeline Statter, and Thulasi
In Showcase III, Lasya Academy presented a Kathak
presentation, Kalasetu: Bridging the Spectrum of Arts.
Performers included, Purvi Bhatt, Uttara Bhave, Rupali
Bhave, Prajakta Gogte, Dipali Bapat, Priyanka Shah, Pooja
Trivedi, Sonali Simhal, and Tanvi Mehta.
Maneesha Sathe and Shambhavi Dandekar were the
choreographers while Purvi Bhatt provided artistic direction. Ravi Bhave played the dhol, Anagh Bhave played the
tabla, Pooja Trivedi played the flute and Sonali Simhal
Krishnaveni Miriyala of Abhinaya Tarangini performed
The Rhythamaya Dance Company presented Raksha:
The Arts Will Save the World, with Sheila Oak Maggin and
Nirathi Rao Kalavapudi taking the lead in the presentation with Bollywood aspects, costumes and live singing.
Asha Vattikuti of Kathakas joined forces with the
Arlington-based Nomad Dancers to show the common
roots of Kathak and Central Asian dances. Vattikuti was
the producer/choreographer and the dancers were Sreya
Atluri, Satya Fajfar, Nila Jain, Manasi Mehta, Sheila Oak-Maggin, Priyanka Salona, Minu Shah-Kalra, Purvi Bhatt,
Priyanka Shah, Dipali Bapat, Sonali Simhal, Tanvi Mehta,
Amar Oak, and Sona Kalra.
The Nomad Dancers were Elena Faye Sutradhar, who
also provided the commentary, and Christel Stevens.
IDEA dance festival wows capital’s aficionados
Hundreds of Indian classical dance enthusiasts had their fill of
Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Kathak, showcased in three
segments and spanning over six hours.