Dance Art

How a classical Indian dance provides UofL statistician outlet to champion social justice

How a classical Indian dance provides UofL statistician outlet to champion social justice
Prathiba Natesan Batley | Nathan Cornetet/Fusion Images

Left mind or proper mind? Most individuals, whether or not analytical or artistic, deal with one talent. Nevertheless, Prathiba Natesan Batley challenges this concept by excelling as an skilled statistician and as an achieved dancer.

Natesan Batley is a professor within the Division of Counseling and Human Growth and interim affiliate dean for college excellence at UofL’s School of Schooling and Human Growth (CEHD). Though she makes a speciality of statistics, there’s one other facet to her life. Natesan Batley is a three-time Indian Nationwide Champion of Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance type, and founding father of Eyakkam Dance Firm.

“The left and proper sides of my mind are at all times preventing towards one another. Dance is a pleasant artistic outlet for my mathematical mind, so it provides me an excellent steadiness,” stated Natesan Batley.

Natesan Batley has taken half in additional than 300 performances and makes use of them to discover the vocabulary of the previous to inform the tales of the current. Lots of her productions spotlight modern social and cultural points, whereas others underscore the intricacies of classical literature. She has carried out with jazz musicians, fashionable dancers, flamenco and faucet artists, and Celtic musicians. Natesan Batley volunteered to show dance to migrant employees in Lebanon the place their solely frequent language was dance. “Artwork transcends boundaries and Bharatanatyam particularly does that as a result of it depends a lot on facial expressions and physique language, that are common.” She has directed exhibits with greater than 75 dancers, an infinite process that she describes as “rewarding, educative and akin to herding cats.”

Just lately, Natesan Batley was featured by Fund for the Arts within the annual “I Am An Artist” marketing campaign. Annually they function three-to-five artists whose major occupation will not be artwork, however who excel at artwork as a second occupation. For the marketing campaign, Natesan Batley was concerned in a video montage with different artists.

“Our jobs can devour a lot of our time, particularly as college, however once you love your job as a lot as I do, you’re in awe that somebody pays you to have enjoyable with numbers,” she stated.

Natesan Batley explains that analysis and educating are her life’s work, however dance additionally has at all times remained elementary to her existence. She owes a lot of her success to the encouragement from her husband, mother, brother and her guru.

“I’ve recognized dancers who haven’t been capable of fulfill their desires as a result of they may not have the numerous degree of help that’s required for being immersed within the arts. I even have a guru whom I contemplate a second mom. After we choreograph, we’re in absolute sync with one another,” provides Natesan Batley.

Why Dance?

Along with being a artistic outlet, dance additionally has develop into a approach for Natesan Batley to additional her work in social justice. You might surprise what does an Indian classical dance type should do with a spot recognized for shaping future educators? She defined that by working within the CEHD, she connects her left and proper mind with social justice as a driving drive.

“I’m a statistician. I may work anyplace on campus, however I discovered a house right here as a result of the problems we tackle are near my coronary heart. As a school, we work with underrepresented teams, we speak about the way to educate minority and Black and Indigenous folks of coloration (BIPOC), and we speak concerning the well-being of BIPOC college.”

Natesan Batley began her journey in dance when she was 12 years outdated. In 2012 she established Eyakkam Dance Firm in Dallas, Texas, and is now primarily based in Louisville. Eyakkam focuses on social justice, significantly within the follow of dance. Traditionally, Bharatanatyam has been topic to stereotypes and exclusion primarily based on stigmas of the abolished Hindu caste system – a human rights violation that also exists in India and among the many Indian diasporas.

Regardless of being concerned within the dance type for greater than 30 years, Natesan Batley has skilled exclusion from the Bharatanatyam group.

“I come from a combined caste background and usually, folks don’t welcome somebody like me. I’m not seen as being a part of that inside circle,” she stated.

After scuffling with the idea of not belonging, Natesan Batley realized that the world was her oyster. “I spotted that what we do, comparable to being variety and compassionate, is what marks our identification – not belonging to a gaggle decided by the roulette wheel of our start,” she stated.

Natesan Batley’s dance firm seeks to reinvent Bharatanatyam by remaining true to the artwork whereas erasing the caste, non secular and bodily identities anticipated of dancers. Her dance firm, Eyakkam, means “motion” in Tamil. She says though most Bharatanatyam dance corporations select a Hindu phrase or identify with non secular implications, she “needed the identify to be secular, so folks perceive that we don’t simply dance. Eyakkam is not only bodily motion. It’s a political motion. It’s a social motion.”

Eyakkam Dance Firm serves the group via performances, workshops and educating. In its group outreach efforts, Eyakkam has helped elevate over $1.3 million to rebuild faculties and services for youngsters with disabilities, for organizations targeted on water, sanitation and hygiene merchandise in southern India.

Dance/USA Fellowship Alternative

In October, Natesan Batley was named considered one of 30 movement-based artists chosen for a one-year fellowship via Dance/USA, a corporation that champions an inclusive and equitable dance subject by main and supporting people and organizations. The fellowship is funded by the Doris Duke Basis.

As the one fellow from Kentucky, Natesan Batley will obtain funding and have the choice to take part in an emergent programming course of that honors selections round connection, relaxation and need. She plans to make use of her funding to supply a brief movie on sexual abuse and sexual harassment known as “Soiled Secrets and techniques,” in partnership with Uniting Companions for Girls and Youngsters and the modern dance program at Indiana College.  

“For me, this award means recognition,” stated Natesan Batley. “Not just for my work and what I’ve endured inside the group within the type of discrimination however for what I’m doing inside the dance type. Similar to I consider everybody can study statistics, I consider everybody can dance. The Dance/USA group has embraced me and my work with open arms and that could be a type of appreciation I didn’t get again dwelling even after I was the nationwide champion. It makes me surprise what ‘dwelling’ actually means. By actually changing into inclusive, it isn’t simply the artwork that may achieve visibility, however the dancers who can actually evolve as people.”

By Tessa Chilton, CEHD. Learn extra updates and tales on the School of Schooling and Human Growth web site.

Video courtesy, Eyakkam Dance Firm

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