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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Awards



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Roopa Shyamasundara and Sruthi Ramesh
2016 master artist and apprentice
Rochester Hills and Troy (Oakland County)
Indian Bharatanatyam dance


Roopa Shyamasundara was born in Hunsur, India. She began studying Bharatanatyam in 1972 from noted dance instructors and gurus such as Guru Smt. Radha Sridhar, Usha Datar, and the Dharanjayans, to name a few, and was supported by dance scholarships from the government of India. After graduating with degrees in dance and commerce and establishing a career as a performer on stage and screen, she moved to Rochester Hills. She founded the Nrityollasa Centre for Performing Arts and has been teaching Bharatanatyam dance for 24 years. Currently, she has over 50 students attending the academy.

Apprentice Sruthi Ramesh is eighteen years old, but has already been dancing Bharatanatyam for fifteen years. She is currently a freshman in Wayne State University’s Honors College and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences pursuing a degree in Biology with a minor in Health Psychology. Sruthi was born in Michigan, but spent several years in India during her childhood.  She began apprenticing with Roopa in June of 2013. Since then, she has competed several times and has had opportunities to teach in Roopa’s studio as an assistant. Sruthi finds that this dance form allows her to develop discipline and self-confidence while connecting her to her heritage. She hopes to continue this tradition throughout her life and spread it further to future students of her own.

This 2016 master-apprentice team is supported by the Heritage of India MSU Museum Endowment.

-Micah Ling


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