Spotlight on: Moksha Atluri of Indian dance club Natya

Natya, Penn State’s classical Indian dance troupe, started with just one ambitious freshman girl. Today, the dance troupe is now known for its rich historical roots and poise, as its president, Moksha Atluri, shares her passion for dancing in the troupe she created.

Atluri, now a senior majoring in life sciences, founded Natya in 2008. The group’s focus is on Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, dance forms from the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states of southern India, respectively. Unlike famous and recognizable Bollywood-style dances, these styles are less well known outside of Indian communities, but Atluri says they are well-recognized art forms among Indian people.

The members of Natya meet every Sunday at 9 p.m. in the White Building lobby. Although experienced dancers are wanted for performances, Natya also welcomes beginners to attend its workshops to learn about the history of the dances and to watch performances. Natya is featured at the Johns Hopkins University’s annual Nritya Mala and will grace the stage for the International Children’s Festival at State College Area High School on Saturday, March 31.

Both Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam are ancient dance forms, says Atluri, who has been dancing since she was four years old.

“Skilled dancers can tell stories without saying a single word,” she says. Of course, mastering these dances doesn’t come overnight either. Like ballet and many other dance forms, she says, it requires “years of training.”

Traditional Indian dancing is “part of who I am,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Natya