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Priya (Padmanabhan) Umesh

Bharathanatyam, the supreme art form which skillfully embodies the three primary ingredients of dance - BHavam, RAgam and  THalam, fascinated Priya right from toddlerhood. She is the daughter of M.Padmanabhan, a Marine Engineer, and Shuba Padmanabhan. Shuba, has dedicated her life for shaping Priya into a dancer and has achieved her goal with the great blessings of Lord Almighty.

Priya started learning Bharathanatyam at the tender age of 5 and is a senior disciple of Guru Smt. Rhadha (sister of Smt. Kamala Lakshman), one of the foremost exponents of the Vazhuvoor tradition. Her keen interest and dedication coupled with sincerity and innate talent presented itself at her arengetram at the age of  11 at Chennai, Mylapore Fine Arts, in February 1992. Ever since, she has accompanied her Guru in various lecture-demonstrations and dance productions such "Jaya Jaya Gopala Balam", "Nowka Charithram", "Bhavaye Padmanabham" and the world renowned "Jaya Jaya Devi"  in Chennai as well as other parts of India. Her solo performances in some of the prestigious Sabhas of Chennai include those at Bharat Kalachar, The Music Academy, Kartik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha's Natyarangam, Mylapore Fine Arts, Chitrarangam, Natyanjali Trust, VDS Arts Academy, Madras Well Wishers and Lalith Kala Vedika. Also trained in natuvangam, Priya has done nattuvangam for many of her dance classmates during the absence of her Guru and has won laurels for the same.  

Blessed with natural flair for the art, and relentless single-minded devotion, Priya has developed into her present status as an elite performing artist. She had the pleasurable opportunity to perform with Smt. Madhuvanthi Arun (Disciple of Smt. Padma Subramanium) in her productions "Karthavyam" and "Abhayam", which did a tour of USA and Canada in the year 1998. It was a rare honour to share stage with the doyen Smt. Vyjayanthi Mala Bali, when Priya performed in her production "Sanga Tamizh Maalai", staged at Narada Gana Sabha, in December 1992.  It was divine blessing to have been able to perform in the presence of Sri Satya Sai Baba during his 70th birthday celebration in Putaparthi in November 1997 and also take part in the Chidambaram Natyanjali festival.Owing to her long years of experience as a performer and her deep understanding of the aesthetics of the dance form, she was given the opportunity to present the 30 Pasurams of the "Tirppavai" on all the 30 days of Margazhi in the Tirupathi Devasthanam Temple in Chennai in December / January 1999. That was a very enlightening experience and a prestigious one too since she was the one to set precedent to this tradition of dancing at that temple for the Mazgazhi season. She also did a project for Kalki Diwali Malar, where photos of her posing for various Pasurams of the Tiruppavai were showcased in their Deepavali Malar edition in the year 1998.                                        

Endowed with a pleasing stage presence, Priya brings to her audience a refreshing presentation of Bharathanatyam, exhibited through her strong sense of rhythm, scintillating nritta and lively abhinaya. Her abilities were recognized very early and she has been the recipient of numerous awards at both interschool and  intercollegiate levels, apart from having won all round appreciation and accolades from the press and public.

Bharathanatyam has found in Priya a dancer dedicated and committed to its cause with her involvement in the art being total. She is an "A" grade artist for Bharathanatyam of Doordarshan, India. A  Computer Science Graduate from the University of Madras, she has one goal in mind: to pass on the varied culture and glorious heritage of  this wonderful art to the young and upcoming. To accomplish this, she has set up "NARTHANYA", Academy of Dance in New Jersey where she gives dance lessons. During her spare time, Priya also paints pictures of Lord Ganesha on different medium. This talent she discovered when she was pregnant with her first son in the year 2000.

Priya hopes that as she strives towards greater excellence in dancing, her passion for Bharatanatyam and other forms of art will endow her with courage to break boundaries and widen her horizons in all avenues of life. She acknowledges her sincere thanks to her Guru for her expert guidance and  her parents who have identified and greatly encouraged her in making her dreams a reality. She greatly appreciates her husband and kids without whose cooperation and support, pursuing her passion would have been impossible.

Background Music
G D Prasad