Natya at Berkeley, from UC Berkeley, was established in the Spring of 2013 by Lalli Venkat, Suhasini Ramakrishna, and Manisha Eerabathini. The team was founded by holding auditions to recruit the original nine team members. Together, they performed for the first time at Cal’s Culture Show and the rest was history!
How do you recruit new members/hold auditions?
At the beginning of the fall semester, we hold auditions that are open to any interested dancers. We publicize this event on Facebook and by tabling on campus. Our auditions take place over the course of one day, where we teach the dancers a 1-2 minute routine and then break into smaller groups to practice and answer any individual questions. After giving the dancers some time to practice, we record each dancer performing the short segment individually. Auditions are a fun experience for both existing and prospective members, because we get to meet and work with other dancers from our university.
How do you approach training freshman and incorporating them into your team's culture?
This year, we were particularly impressed by the technique of our new members and how quickly they were able to master brand new choreography. Training freshman mostly involves teaching them the team’s existing repertoire and make sure we standardize our technique, since everyone comes from a different dance background and style. In addition, our team is very close-knit and we always try to have a bonding/team-building activity early in the semester to get to know each other better each time we add new members.
What are your goals for this season?
One of our goals this season is to create a challenging and unique competition piece that showcases the strengths of different dancers on the team. In addition, we want to get the Bay Area excited and interested in Bharatanatyam by hosting Laasya 2016 in March.
What do you think are the biggest challenges within your circuit?
While this is changing with time, one challenge we face is encouraging non-traditional audiences to come to our shows, since many people are unfamiliar with Bharatanatyam. We strive to put a creative and modern touch on our classical pieces so that they can be enjoyed by a wide variety of audiences.
What do you like most about your team/teammates?
Everyone is so hardworking and determined to improve our pieces, while also maintaining a light-hearted and fun atmosphere at our practices.
What do you enjoy most about your team?
Every member of Natya at Berkeley is very different in terms of our interests, backgrounds, and perspectives, and we utilize each person’s unique strengths to accomplish the things we do as a team. We have team members that excel at choreographing, creating intro videos, designing apparel, and planning fundraisers, and this collaboration among members helps our team succeed.
Are there any traditions your team has?
We name all of our trophies after Shakespearean characters and tend to stuff ourselves into one hotel room at competitions.
Watch Natya's performance at Davis Dheem Tana 2015:
They are especially proud of this performance because of their piece “The Descent of Ganga” at Davis Dheem Tana in 2014 where they won first place!
Have there been any defining moments or particularly memorable moments for your team?
One of the best moments for our team was winning 2nd place at our first competition ever, Laasya 2014!
3 random/interesting facts about Natya at Berkeley:
- We love karaoke.
- We love eating pizza and In-n-Out.
- We are very competitive at mixer games.