The first Kuchipudi dancer to tour the former Soviet Union, Shoba Nataranjan has continued to astonish the world with her imaginative dancing. Chicago newspaper the Naperville Sun claimed that "the grace and symmetry of the geometric figures she makes across the stage are enchanting, and the fluidity of her hand gestures is captivating." The Georgia (USSR) Times called her "a true daughter of her nation," and explained that "the music and dance of her country are in her blood, and that's why the language of her dance is so striking and impressive." Nataranjan has been dancing most of her life. Starting Bharatanatyam training at the age of five, she made her stage debut three years later. Before she reached her teens, she had begun studying Kuchipudi dance with Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam. She subsequently played the lead role in several of Dr. Satyam's ballets, traveling to the United States to perform with Dr. Satyam's troupe in 1984. She spent several years studying with singer and dance teacher Kalaimamani Swamimalai Rajaratnam, and studied carnatic music with Sangeetha Kalinidhi, B. Rajam Iyer, and Dr. S.R. Janakiraman. A co-founder of the Nrityaranga Dance Cooperative, Nataranjan founded and directed Samskriti Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization devoted to the promotion of Indian culture, dance, and music. She received the titles Sangita Ratna (on completing advanced training at the Music Academy College of Music) in 1989, Yuva Kala Bharati (from Bharat Kalachar) in 1992, and Natanamamani (from Kathik Fine Arts) in 1994. Nataranjan has continued to share her love of dancing with audiences around the world. She performed as a soloist and taught a month-long intensive workshop at a Hindu Temple in Flushing, NY, in 1986, and spent six weeks touring the former Soviet Union the following year. In 1992, she was the lead dancer in the International Dance Alliance's Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum tour of North America. Nataranjan teaches dance and music at the Samskriti Foundation headquarters in Chicago.
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