By Shelby Campbell
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — On a darkened Bellbrook High School auditorium stage with an illuminated shrine to God, Troy High School Senior Sri Madireddy began to perform her graduation recital for more than 100 people. She started to dance at the age of six years old, and in 2014 sought higher training from her Guru, Dr. Chethana Raghupathy. Her nine classical dances all told stories, which were spiritual in nature.
Before the ceremony, Madireddy and her family prayed around a shrine that remained lit throughout the entire performance. Praying at the feet of her elders and bowing toward the shrine to bring success to her dancing, Madireddy began four hours of dance.
Her recital included three ensembles. Each of her outfits was brightly colored and intricate, but also allowed her to move freely. She had belts around her ankles that included bells, so that the dances would also flow with the music. She wore a headdress that included flowers entwined in her braid. Every part of her performance, including her outfits, helped tell a story.
Each dance had a different song that went with its story. The musicians that played were prestigious Indian performers, which included Vidushi Dr. Chethana Raghupathy (Sri’s Guru), the lead vocalist, Vidwan Kumar Das, the drummer playing an Indian instrument called a mridangam, Vidwan Sathyanarayanan, the violinist, Vidwan Krishna Subramanian, and the flutist, Vidwan C.K. Pathanjali.
Madireddy’s guru, Dr. Chethana Raghupathy, is a practicing physician in Dayton. She established her studio, Nrityalaya Dayton, Ohio, in 2004.
“My objective was to train interested students in this ancient dance form,” Dr. Raghupathy said.
After working with her guru for two years, Sri is highly appreciative of what Dr. Raghupathy taught her.
“She spent so many hours away from her family to train me, and I appreciated every second of it. On any given day, even if I didn’t want to be there, she guided me to continue to dance,” Sri said with a shy grin.
Madireddy also acknowledged her family and friends for their ongoing support.
“Without the support of both my family and classmates to continue to do what I love, I’m not sure I would have gotten to this point,” she stated during her speech after the recital.
In her final performance, called “Mangalam,” she offers salutations to God for her successful performance. She also thanks the audience and expresses her best wishes in a dance. Sri’s event was followed up with a traditional Indian meal.
Shelby Campbell is a senior staff writer for the Trojan Tempo at Troy High School. She loves photography and supporting local artists.