Blaine girl to perform traditional south Indian dance

She’s only 12 years old, but Aarthi Vijayakumar will debut with a two-hour long dance dating back three millennia when she performs the Bharatanatyam next month.

ArtsAarthi1With graceful movement and vibrant color, the young girl expresses her love of the south Indian traditions and cultures in which her family is so deeply rooted.

“My parents and ancestors are from South India, and Bharatanatyam is a dance form that originated in South India. A lot of the pieces that I’ve learned so far express the Hindu stories that I’ve heard and read growing up,” said Aarthi, a resident of Blaine.

Her dance instructor, Suchitra Sairam of Kala Vandanam Dance Studio, described the history of the Bharatanatyam.

“Bharatanatyam is one of eight classical dance traditions in India and originated as a part of the worship rituals in the temples of Tamil Nadu in South India,” she said. “There is sculptural and textual evidence of the dance form dating back approximately three millennia.”

Aarthi began dancing seven years ago, the past four training with Sairam in her St. Paul studio.

“At first I wanted to learn dance because I wanted to wear the beautiful costumes and jewelry,” Aarthi said. “But now Bharatanatyam is a lot more than just a hobby to me. I love dancing because you can express anything – stories, emotions, descriptions, all with this art form.”

Sairam recognizes in her young student wisdom and maturity beyond her years.

“I do feel that (Aarthi) has poise and confidence as a stage performer that is beyond her years, and that she has a very balanced combination of vibrant technical dance and mature expressional ability that is unusual for a Bharatanatyam dancer at her age,” Sairam said.

Aarthi hopes to one day teach dance, longing for an opportunity to share what’s she learned about the Hindu stories, Indian music and traditions she so expresses in her dance.

“It fits (me) because I love art and I am artistic and Bharatanatyam is a beautiful form of art,” she said. “It is a form of art you can physically express things through, which is why I like it so much.”

Aarthi will perform her Bharatanatyam by invitation only, Sunday, Sept. 1, in the Fridley High School auditorium.

To learn more about Kala Vandanam Dance Studio and the Bharatanatyam, visit

Sue Austreng is at
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