Bharatanatyam Week


Join us for Bharatanatyam Week events September 27-29 with Mesma Belsaré and Anita Vallabh.


Co-Sponsored by the Center for South Asian Studies, the Department of Theatre and Dance, and the Edward A. “Skeep” Langhans Award.


Wednesday, September 27


With Mesma Belsaré


9:30am – 10:45am Dance Building Studio


Through an interactive workshop, dancer and visual artist Mesma Belsaré will explore the creative principles common in Indian classical dance and the visual arts. Participants will encounter the fundamentals of dance-design such as the origin of the Bharatanatyam araimandi (the deep plié), among other interesting discoveries. Through a series of movements in the Bharatanatyam dance technique, participants will then learn the connection between body, music, word, gesture and meaning.

More about Mesma Belsaré

Mesma Belsaré is a multidisciplinary dance artist. Her work speaks towards creating and occupying space for gender-non-conforming voices in dance. She received training in Bharatanātyam dance and Indian classical music in India, and after immigrating to the United States, worked towards disruption of gender stereotypes and advocacy for LGBTQ voices through dance, theater and the visual arts. Belsaré holds a Masters in Art Education, with a history of museum education at the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA), and MassArt Art Museum (Boston, MA). She is recipient of the Dance/USA Artist Fellowship 2023, the Cambridge Arts Council’s Artist-Grant, NEFA Dance Fund, and the Government of Delhi Classical Arts Scholarship. With her mentor Maya Kulkarni in New York, Belsaré is developing a new dance style ‘Shilpa Natanam’ (Dancing Sculptures) that departs radically from the gender-distinct styles of movement, reframes narratives, and explores new themes and techniques. Belsaré has engaged with the youth at several U.S. public universities and colleges in her capacity as a multidisciplinary artist. She is the co-founder of Samvād Boston, a community space for Indian classical dancers and musicians. With a lifelong immersion in classical Bharatanātyam, music, theater, art education, painting and graphic design, Belsaré derives inspiration from performing and visual arts alike. She currently lives and works in New York.

Her Dance Profile includes: Performance venues include The Lincoln Center (NYC; 2009), Asia Society (NYC; 2010), Alvin Ailey (NYC; 2008), The Lincoln Theater (Washington D.C.; 2006), Harbourfront Center (Toronto; 2009, 2012), Siri Fort and Triveni (New Delhi; 1994-98) in addition to numerous art museums, namely MFA Boston (2010), Queens Art Museum (2011), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2019), Peabody Essex Museum (2005, 2012, 2014), Harvard Art Museum (2010) and Royal Ontario Museum (2006). Her traditional solo dance works have been reviewed by The New York Times, The Dance Current, The Ballet Review, Toronto Star, Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Hindu and The Boston Globe, among other publications. Dance residencies and speaker assignments include: The Nehru Centre (London; 2021), University of California (Berkeley; 2019), Georgetown University (D.C.; 2019), Drexel University (Philadelphia; 2019), California Institute of Integral Studies (San Francisco; 2019), William Paterson University (New Jersey; 2018), University of Toronto (Canada; 2012 & 2014), University of Wyoming (Laramie; 2009), Tufts University (Massachusetts; 2005) and Boston University (Massachusetts; 2003). Solo productions besides an extensive classical dance repertory includes “Medea” (2022), “Plato’s Allegory of the Cave” (2020), “In Each is Both” (2019), “Mohini” (2019), “Sāyankālé” (2019), “The Vermin’s Will” (2017), “Unquiet Epics” (2012), “Zan: Women in the Shahnameh” (2010), & “Carmine Bees” (2008). During the COVID pandemic, Belsaré’s commissioned dance films ‘Chinnamastā’ (2022) and ‘In the Creator’s Gaze’ (2020) were received with wide acclaim.

Friday, September 29


With Dr. Anita Vallabh


9:30am – 10:45am 

BHARATANATYAM DANCE WORKSHOP: Rhythms of expression: Exploring the importance and inherent challenges of emoting (Dance Building Studio) 

The workshop explores the importance of expression while moving to a song. We will practise a few lines of bollywood, semiclassical and classical songs and identify the challenges of synchronising rhythms of facial expression with movement and learn how such a practice can  enhance your emotional wellbeing.

4pm – 5pm


In this workshop we will explore how expressing traditional/mythological narratives combined with the five yogic principles of Non-violence, Truth, Non-stealing, Moderation and Non-greed help us navigate layers of complex emotions within us so we become more tender and resilient.

More about Dr. Anita Vallabh

Dr. Anita Vallabh is trained in Bharatnātyam at Bharata Kalānjali, under the Dhananjayans, with experience in performing, teaching, and choreographing for thirty years. She has served as a Visiting Professor of Dance at the Dr MGR Janaki College of Arts and Sciences in Chennai and a Visiting Guest Artist and Full Semester Lecturer of Bharatnatyam Dance at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa as a Rama Watumull Distinguished Indian Scholar. Her points of interest include integrating the arts, bridging cultures, and translating philosophical concepts into everyday life. Dr. Vallabh is committed to be truthful to herself and expresses it in dance and in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife, and teacher. She engages thoughtfully, inspiring and challenging every student’s potential for creative expression. She has conducted numerous workshops and presented papers including various presentations with Stanford University, the Shree Academy of Arts MGR Janaki College of Arts and Sciences in Chennai, India, and Harrisburg Pennsylvania, Aaraadhana in Capetown, South Africa with the Dance Collective and K. Sarveshan, Mudra Dance School in San Jose, Jayendra Kala Kendra in San Francisco, Darshini Natyalaya in Atlanta, the International Sanskrit Conference held in Bangkok, The Village in Bangkok, the University of Culture in Myanmar, the Department of Human Studies at Kyoto University in Japan, Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, and Artist in Residence at Shangri-La with the Doris Duke Foundation in Honolulu. Dr. Vallabh is the recipient of a Certificate of Honor from the City and County of Honolulu and the National Award for the Best Dancer from the National Hindi Academy in Calcutta where she received the title “Kala Bhārati”. She was conferred the title “Bharatanātya Pracharamani” by the Tamil Association in Myanmar. Dr. Vallabh is a Certified Yoga Teacher with 500hrs of training at the Himalayan Institute. She has a Bachelor of Education from the Bhartiya Shiksha Parishad in Uttar Pradesh and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Stella Maris College in Chennai, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Annamalai University in Annamalai, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Madras in Chennai. Website: