An independent artiste, Aruna Gandhi aims to kindle an interest and appreciation for Bharatanatyam in Australia. Says Aruna, "Dance is an artform that appeals universally, crossing borders of cultures, beliefs, races, religion or geography. It has the power to bring an instant sense of joy, happiness and peace in any human being. Through my dance practice, I hope to explore the endless possibilities of reaching out to people around the world".
Through solos and group performances, Aruna has been endeavouring to take Bharatanatyam to the wider Australian audience...
Performance Highlights: Carnival of Bold Festival (2018), Sydney Fringe Festival (2017), 'Carnival of Cultures' by Inner-West Council (March 2017), 'Art after Hours' at Art Gallery of NSW (Oct.2016), 'Woman Scream' Poetry & Arts Festival at Parliament House, NSW(March 2016), Ashfield Carnival (2016), 'On the Cusp' at Bangarra Dance Theatre, 'Speak Local' Festival at Critical Path (2015), Anywhere Festival, Parramatta (2015)Sacred Music Festival - Blacktown Hospital, Sydney Festival (2014), Parramasala (2013, 2012), Dance Bites Season - FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres (May 2013), National Art Gallery, Canberra (presented by SIFAA, April 2013), 'PBD Conference', Sydney - hosted by the High Commission of India (Nov. 2013), Macquarie University (Nov.2012), Campbelltown Arts Centre (2012, 2009), Groundswell’s multicultural arts forum at Carriageworks (April 2012), Third Australasian Sanskrit conference jointly organised by University of Sydney and Australian Catholic University (July 2012), Seymour Centre and Hawker College auditorium, Canberra (June 2011) and at many other community events around Sydney.
In the healthcare setting, Aruna has showcased performances at Sutherland Hospital and St. George Hospital (2016) and Blacktown Hospital (2014).
Many cross-artform projects have been created and developed, and some are 'work in progress', where Aruna collaborates with dancers, musicians, theatre professionals and other artistes to choreograph and perform new work.
'The Dreaming Damsel', a collaborative performance themed on Raja Ravi Varma's paintings, alongwith musicians Sumathi Krishnan (Vocal) and Dr. John Napier (Cello). Premiered at Anywhere Festival Parramatta, at Hambledon Cottage(May 2015) and Sydney Fringe Festival (2017).
'The Dancing Peacock' a collaborative performance with musician Nicholas Ng, showcased at 'Chindians of Auburn' Festival (Feb.2016) and Carnival of Bold Festival (2018)
'Nayika', a collaborative work in progress with musician Anisha Thomas, showcased at 'On the Cusp' at Bangarra Dance Theatre and 'Speak Local' Festival at Critical Path (2016)
'Celebrate Campbelltown', an inter-cultural DVD project produced by Wizard of Oz Funland, Leumeah (Feb 2015). The 'Celebrate Campbelltown' project is a winner of The Daily Telegraph's 'Champions of the West' award under tourism category.
'The Calling', featuring a collaborative performance with Hang musician Prabhu Osoniqs and vocalist Namrata Pulapaka; presented by ICE and Sydney Festival, 2014
'Nrityaroopa', a collaborative performance with Kathak dancer Shruti Ghosh and Hang musician Prabhu Osoniqs; presented by FORM Dance Projects, 2013
'Ode to Australia' and 'Deepajwalanam' with lyrics by Sanskrit scholar Dr. Meenakshi Srinivasan; presented by School of Vedic Sciences (2012, 2013)
'Story of Dharawal' based on the aboriginal community of southern Sydney (a project implemented by School of Vedic Sciences, commissioned by Community Relations Commission, NSW (2012).
‘The Seven steps from Bodhasara’ a collaborative work in progress alongwith author Dr. Jennifer Cover.
‘Shakthi’ a collaborative work with dancers Aruna Iyengar and Monica Singh; presented by Natyanjali, Australia (2011)
A collaborative piece alongwith Indonesian dancer Sisca Hunt (as part of her production 'Sita' themed on Ramayana, 2014).
Aruna was featured in a performance in the documentary, ‘Talanoa: Walk the Talk’ Performance Series III, produced by the Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW as part of the exhibition, ‘What I think About When I think About Dancing’. Directed by multimedia artist and curator Shigeyuki Kihara (New Zealand) it features a collaboration between the Mukti Gupteshwar Mandir Society, Minto and the Congregational Christian Church, Samoa (July 2009).
Creative Movement Workshops
With the focus of engaging with diverse communities through participatory arts projects, Aruna is currently undertaking the facilitation of 'Creative Movement' workshops. Catering to people of all ages and tailor made for each focus group, the workshops are creatively engaging, challenging and fun. Drawing from the aspects of Bharatanatyam, the sessions feature gentle warm-up exercises and develop into an exploration of hand-gestures, rhythmic movements, role-play, story-telling, group movement patterns, response to music and much more...The workshops are suitably adapted for children, mums & bubs, adults, student groups, women's groups, people with disabilities and seniors.
'Dancing my Dreams' a community arts project was facilitated by Aruna between October 2016 - March 2017. The project involved a series of dance workshops for women, culminating in a showcase performance at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (Performance Space) on March 24th, 2017. Project partners were Liverpool City Council, Settlement Services International (SSI) and SEVA International Inc.
Aruna facilitated a series of workshops titled, ‘I heart my Body’ for women with varied abilities (Oct.2015 – March 2016). The project won the ‘Social Change through Creativity’ grant from Fairfield City Council. The workshops culminated in a ‘Creative Forum’ on March 5th, 2016 in Cabramatta, to mark International Women’s Day. The project partners were CORECS, Cabramatta and SEVA International Inc.,
Aruna has facilitated workshops for mums & bubs at the 'Family Creative Hub' at Information & Cultural Exchange, ICE, Parramatta, NSW, for children at primary schools in Bankstown as part of HeART Links program, and for women at SSI and other community programs.
Silambam-Sydney School of Indian Traditional Dance
At Silambam-Sydney, founded in May 2009, Aruna offers ongoing training in Bharatanatyam to students of all ages. Classes are held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at Liverpool Public School Hall, Liverpool, and on Saturday mornings at Glenfield Public School Hall, Glenfield, NSW. A new branch has just been launched in North Sydney - on Sunday afternoons at North Sydney Demonstration School Hall. Besides the practice and theory of Bharatanatyam, Silambam also offers a holistic experience for a value-based and disciplined approach to life. Children, youth and adults enjoy learning in a friendly atmosphere. Classes cater to both beginners and students at an advanced level.