I have been learning how to pass on the mythological stories that make up Hinduism, throughout the art form of dance for as long as I can remember. My mom never danced as a child but my grandma was a spectacular dancer. As much of skill that the dance required, learning how to arrange the makeup, costume and jewelry took the same amount of skill. The dancers needed special bells that were worn around the ankles to amplify the rhythmic sound made by the dancers feet. My grandma adored her bells and took great care of them along with the rest of her dance jewelry. Sadly, before she could make it out of that small town and into the main stage, she married my grandpa and her priorities shifted from the art of Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) to the orthodox female priorities of starting a family. Despite my grandmother being the dancer she was, my mom never learned to dance as she was more interested in singing. Later, she also got married and came to the United States with my dad and my brother in 1998. Soon enough I was born, dancing my way into the world and it was only a matter of time before I started to master the art of my ancestors. I started learning Bharatnatyam when I was 5 and am still practicing to this day, 11 years later. At my first major performance, my mom gave me my grandmother’s bells, the ones she had used all through out her dancing career. They are all that remain from that time in her life and her passion and talent lives on through me everytime I dance using those special bells.
– rishi kudaravalli