Shiva Nataraja

Relationship: Im/migrant

Dancing to America Vigneswary Jeyghandi spent her childhood in Sri Lanka, where she attended primary school, played with friends outdoors, and dreamed about dancing. That is, until civil war broke out, her father died, and her family split up. Her brothers moved to Europe for safety and she was left behind, without direction. With the advisement of her sister-in-law, Vigneswary was able to pursue her passion for Bharatnatyam in India. She attended the prestigious, Kalakshreta, and worked her way up to a senior instructor. When she finally felt secure, Vigneswary was offered a marriage proposal, which meant moving to America. She left behind dance to become a wife and mother. Knowing nothing about America, Vigneswary sought out to recreate that happiness from India in New York. What better way to bring her heritage to America than to start her own dance academy. From a young girl, in a poor country with no room for growth, to a mother of three, running a school of over 50 students, Vigneswary has proven herself to be a woman of many endeavors. As a token of appreciation, she was given a Shiva Nataraja deity, from her first student in America. It remains on her altar as a symbol of not only dance, but of restarting her life to sustain her passion. No matter which country she was in, the Dancing Shiva had been in her heart through every trial she experienced, keeping her pride as a dancer.

Place(s): Sri Lanka
Year: 1996

– Chandani Ramkishun

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant