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Krishna and his feather

Usha (Stéphanie Bernier) has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She first started with classical dancing and ballet followed by a little contemporary dance with an aim of becoming a choreographer. She studied for a number of years under Mrs. Bret a teacher from the Royal Academy of London and has attended the international dance school of Rosella Hightower, in Cannes, France. During a childhood and adolescence living in the Middle East and Asia she discovered Bharata Natyam when she was twelve years old and saw the dance performed on television in Abu Dhabi.

 

 

A number of years passed before she decided to change from one form of dance to another. While attending a show of Priyadarsini Govind, then on tour in France, she became hooked by the precision and smoothness of her style. She then started training and studying bharata natyam under Vidya, a disciple of K.M.K. Saroja, at the Mandapa center in Paris. She also started to visit India regularly travelling to Chennai (Madras), capital of the Indian classical dance and music. In parallel, she took part in training courses at “La Cartoucherie de Vincennes” with Jamuna Krishnan and also tried other styles of Indian dance, such as Kuchipudi, Mohini Attam and Odissi. All this reinforced her desire to fully understand and study bharata natyam and she very quickly decided she would completely dedicate herself to it. She therefore decided to move to Chennai for as long as necessary in order that she could study and understand its heart and soul.

Krishna playing flute

 
 

Guru K.M.K. Saroja and Smt. Priyadarsini Govind lighting the oil lamp at Usha's arangetram

 

For Usha as Priyadarsini Govind was the most accomplished dancer of her generation and her style had made a profound impression on her she therefore contacted her even though she taught very rarely. They met and the famous artist took her under her wing. Today Usha still feels the joy that she felt when Priyadarsini Govind agreed to be her teacher. The professionalism and the humanity shown by Priyadarsini Govind have confirmed to Usha that she is indeed the Master she was looking for.

 

 

 

Following her advise Usha also studied carnatic music and nattuvangam under Master Seetaraman Sharma, in order to better understand the composition and complex rhythm of Southern India. Usha also practises yoga and kalaripayattu, the martial art from Kerala, at a center established by Chandralekha. She has also learnt the basics of Sanskrit.

   
   

 

 

She performed her arangetram at the Music Academy of Chennai, under the supervision of her guru, Priyadarsini Govind, where she specialized in becoming a classical bharata natyam dancer. At this time her Masters gave her the name Usha, “Dawn”.

 

 

 

"Where the hand goes, there should the eyes follow, where the eyes go, there should the mind go, where the mind goes, bhava is ceated, where bhava is created, rasa will arise" Abhinaya Darapana by Nandikeshwara.

With Guru Seetaraman Sharma

 

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