Captivating stage presence ... graceful movements ... excellent technique ... natural sophistication in abhinaya ... deft touches imbibed from her illustrious mentor.
These were some of the remarks made by dance critics when Shoba Natarajan gave her arangetram (dance debut) at the age of eight, under the guidance of the legendary Kamala.
Later Shoba received several years of intensive training in Bharatanatyam from S. K. Rajaratnam, a dance teacher and singer of great repute. She is now considered one of the foremost exponents of the vibrant Vazhuvoor style. The delicate nuances of her abhinaya (mime), her mastery of form and footwork, and the sheer purity and poetic grace of her dance, make her performances a truly enchanting experience.
Shoba is also a leading Kuchipudi dancer and is a senior disciple of the renowned Kuchipudi guru, Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. She has played the lead in many of his dance ballets. Shoba's soul-stirring Kuchipudi recitals have helped bring worldwide recognition and acclaim to this graceful and lilting dance form.
She has presented several nationally telecast programmes on Indian television, and was awarded the titles Yuva Kala Bharati by Bharat Kalachar in 1992, and Natanamamani by Karthik Fine Arts in 1994.
In March 1984, Shoba became the first Kuchipudi dancer to tour the USSR. In the summer of 1984, she toured the USA with Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam's troupe and made a memorable impression as Srinivasa in the dance ballet Srinivasa Kalyanam. Shoba returned to USA in 1986 to give solo performances and conducted a one-month intensive Kuchipudi workshop at the Hindu Temple in Flushing, New York.
Shoba was invited to perform in Manila in January 1987, and participated in the Festival of India in the USSR. Her six-week solo tour of the USSR included performances in Leningrad and other cities. In November 1987, Shoba performed for the inaugural of the Sixth World Tamil Conference in Malaysia. She was a lead dancer in the International Dance Alliance's Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum tour of the USA and Canada, in 1992. She recently concluded a solo dance tour of Finland and Estonia and gave a recital at the Savoy Theatre in Helsinki in honor of Mahatma Gandhi's 125th birth anniversary.
Some of Shoba's notable performances have been at the Music Academy in Madras, the Natyanjali festival at Chidambaram, Swati Tirunal festival in Kerala, Dussera celebrations at Mysore, Sangeet Natak Academy's Yuva Utsav in Kanpur, Ustad Allaudin Khan Ghungroo festival in Bhopal, and the Kalidas Samaroh in Ujjain.
Shoba has learnt Carnatic vocal music from the eminent teachers, Dr. B. Rajam Iyer and Dr. S. R. Janakiraman. She is a founder-member of Nrityaranga, a dance cooperative in Madras that is devoted to the encouragement of young dancers. She possesses a deep knowledge and appreciation of the history, theory and music of dance. She is a skilled and experienced teacher, and has choreographed group presentations and dance dramas for her students. Shoba conducts workshops and training camps where she teaches classical dance and music, and yoga. Shoba is the founder-director of the Samskriti, a non-profit institute for the promotion of Indian dance, music, and culture.
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