What My Teacher Taught Me: Sahasra Sambamoorthi

Navatman Dance artistic director Sahasra Sambamoorthi studied bharata natyam with Ramya Ramnarayan for 14 years. Ramnarayan taught her how to showcase her individual strengths.

“She works with the person in front of her. She doesn’t try to make us all the same dancer. There’s a piece she taught me when I was very young that she also taught to another dancer. This person was a little bit better with quick footwork, so she involved a lot more of that in it. I tended to be more flexible, so I had more postures running through my choreography.

See Sambamoorthi performing at the Drive East dance festival August 22–28 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa in New York City.

Photo by Radha Ganesan, courtesy of Sambamoorthi

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Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

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"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

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