Savitha Sastry, Bharatanatyam Danseuse
11 December 1969
|Alma mater||Stella Maris College, Chennai|
|Occupation||Bharatanatyam choreographer and dancer|
|Years active||1981 – present|
Savitha Sastry is an Indian dancer and choreographer best known as an exponent of Bharatanatyam. She is the founder-director of Sai Shree Arts, a Dance company known to experiment with the format of traditional Bharatanatyam by using the techniques of Bharatanatyam to showcase theme based productions based on novel stories, not based on Indian mythology or religion.
Early life and education
Savitha Sastry was born in Hyderabad, and later lived in Mumbai before her family relocated to their home town of Chennai. She started her training in Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Guru Mahalingam Pillai at the Sri Rajarajeswari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir in Mumbai, and later with Adyar K Lakshman and the Dhananjayans in Chennai. She did her schooling from the P.S Senior Secondary School in Chennai, and her graduation from the Stella Maris College. In 1986, she featured as the lead dancer in the Tamil film Ananda Tandavam, a production of her Guru Adyar K Lakshman. She pursued her Masters degree in the United States, where she majored in Neuroscience.
Through the 80s, 90s and the first decade of the millennium, Savitha had performed mostly to traditional repertoires of Bharatanatyam. She produced and choreographed a few full length presentations such as Krishna: The Supreme Mystic and Purushartha during this phase. Savitha was credited to have a high degree of technical proficiency to her kinetics of the dance form in being able to deliver it with grace and technique demanded of Bharatanatyam performers. Critic Hamsa Venkat from Sydney reported " Savitha's crisp nritta (pure dance), clean lines and flawless aramandi was a breath of fresh air, and truly inspirational for students of dance.". The Audition Panel of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival described her dancing with the words "Moves like a temple sculpture come to life".
Savitha has been critically lauded not only for her technique, but also for her innovations with the art form to take it to a wider audience. Critic Fozia Yasin of the Asian Age notes that Savitha "aims to bring about a renaissance in the traditional art form by marrying the aesthetics of Bharatanatyam with the power of an intelligent and novel story-line.". Critic Nonika Singh of theTribune wrote, "Knocking down pigeonholes as she breaks free, she hopes to inspire more and more aspiring dancers to soar along, in the vast expanse of tradition minus the baggage of restrictive thinking!"
Notable choreographies and productions
By 2009, Savitha departed from performing traditional margams (the traditional order in which classical dance is performed), and started her work on theme based productions. Savitha is noted for the use of contemporary and original story lines in her performances and her portrayal of multiple characters as a solo performer in them, which is a marked departure from the traditional Bharatanatyam theme of the nayika (the heroine) pining for love or pieces based on Bhakti (devotion) alone.Some of her notable productions include Music Within (2010), Soul Cages (2012), "Yudh" (2013). and The Prophet (2013)
All her productions have been based on short stories by her husband AK Srikanth, and the soundtrack for the productions have been composed by Rajkumar Bharathi, the great grandson of the veteran poet Subramania Bharathi. These have been performed in several countries, and the productions have met with critical and popular acclaim. Another hallmark of Savitha's presentations is a Q & A session that she and Srikanth have with the audience at the end of the performance where the audience discuss the presentation with the performer and writer. Savitha has been given the epithet of 'Dancing Storyteller' by the popular press following these productions. Savitha and Srikanth are now working on their next project titled 'Chains: Love Stories of Shadows' which they hope to premier in January 2015. They are also in the process of producing an opening act to 'Chains' titled 'In God's Country' which would be directed by Savitha and performed by advanced students of Bharatanatyam across various cities. 'In God's Country' is based on a story by Srikanth, and features music by Rajkumar Bharathi.
Savitha is married to AK Srikanth, who is her partner in the production company and also her classmate from her high school. The couple jointly produce their shows, and live in Mumbai.
Dance theatre productions
Krishna – The Supreme Mystic (2006)
Music Within (2010)
Chains: Love Stories of Shadows (Under Production) (2015)
In God's Country (Directed by Savitha Sastry) (2015)
Featured in the BBC Production: Sex, Death & the Gods (2011)
Savitha is also an A Grade artiste with Doordarshan, the national TV Channel in India.
Ananda Tandavam (1986) – Lead Dancer
- Praveen, Priyanka. (6 August 2012). Breaking free from the mould. Deccan Chronicle.
- Singh, Nonika. (15 July 2012). Like a Free Bird. The Tribune.
- Yasin, Fozia. (27 January 2013). Modern Classics. The Asian Age.
- Vincent, Anusha. (5 March 2013). Natya goes beyond borders. Deccan Chronicle.
- Viswanathan, Lakshmi. (1 December 2003). Inimitable Dance Guru. The Hindu.
- About Savitha. www.savithasastry.com
- Suri, Sathish. (25 September 2011). Narthaki.com.
- Venkat, Hamsa. (11 March 2011). A Queen of Mime. Sydhwaney.com
- Savitha Sastry Webpage
- Yasin, Fozia. (27 January 2013). Modern Classics. The Asian Age
- Singh, Nonika. (15 July 2012). Like a Free Bird. The Tribune
- Das, Priya. (29 November 2010). A Quiet Dance of the Soul. India Currents
- Bal, Harish. (13 October 2011). Festival Rhythms. The Hindu.
- Subramanya, Mysore V. (11 April 2013). Music & Dance Reviews. Deccan Herald.
- Sharma, SD. (2012 July). Savitha Sastry leaves Chandigarh Audience awestruck. Hindustan Times.
- Kumar, Ranee. (10 August 2012). Enchanting Treatment. The Hindu.
- Singh, Ayesha. (9 December 2012). Soul Cages – A renaissance in Bharatanatyam. Sunday Standard.
- Mendoza, Conan. (3 April 2013). The Drama of Dance. Deccan Chronicle.
- Akanksha PV. (26 April 2013). Reviews on YUDH – the dance drama ballet by Savitha Sastry. IndiaStudyChannel.
- Pattabhiraman, Arundhati. (10 March 2013). Creativity Unlimited. Deccan Herald.
- Around Town, (19 November 2013). Indian Express
- Agarwal, Kanchan. (23 February 2013). A lifetime of learning. Post Noon.
- National Centre Performing Arts, Mumbai. Yudh – Three perspectives, one truth.
- Sundar, Mrinalini. (29 March 2013). Alternative Storyteller. Indian Express.
- RK. (2013 Feb). Dancing Storyteller. Hans India.
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