Vadehi Subramanyan: classical dance in contemporary context

Dates & times

Sat 20 March — Sat 27 March 2021, 5:30pm–8pm


Drill Hall Gallery


Vaidehi was interested in bharatanatyam from a young age, inspired by her late grandmother Smt Thangamani Nagarajan, a dancer and teacher of the renowned school of art Kalakshetra in Chennai. Vaidehi currently learns under guru K.P. Yesodha from Chennai, under the guidance of her grandmother’s friend Smt Ambika Buch who both also studied at Kalakshetra.

Bharatanatyam is a classical south Indian dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, consisting of pure dance focussed on rhythm and grace, and story-telling and acting. Traditionally, bharatanatyam explores themes from Hindu scriptures and folklore.

Bharatanatyam’s theoretical foundations trace to the ancient Sanskrit text, Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra (its first compilation dated between 200BC and 200CE). Bharatanatyam poses are depicted in sculptures and carvings through temples such as those in Chidambaram and Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, dating back to ~12th century and 6th-9th century respectively. From its ancient form, and after being banned by the British colonial government, Rukmini Devi Arundale, founder of Kalakshetra, was key to bharatanatyam’s evolution and revival.

The main piece of the evening’s program is a swarajathi, which explores a theme through a mix of pure dance and story-telling through hand gestures, facial expressions and acting. The swarajathi that Vaidehi will be performing is Sakhiye inda velaiyil. The piece conveys a woman’s feeling of longing for her Lord Krishna, to her friend (‘sakhi’ meaning ‘friend’). She tells her friend ‘O beautiful friend, don’t play tricks with me at this time, find and invite and bring my Lord to me quickly’. She implores her friend to take her love seriously, going on to describe her Lord Krishna, her love and desire for him and her wishes to be united with him.

The piece is in raagam (scale) Anandabhairavi, set to taalam (time signature) Adi. Choreographed by Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale, music composed by the Tanjore Quartet.


Visitors to the Drill Hall Gallery:

For your safety, the Drill Hall Gallery will be following guidelines, recommendations and enforceable public health directions published by ACT Health and Safework Australia. We will be collecting contact tracing information from all visitors to the gallery.

To ensure a safe and healthy environment while visiting the Drill Hall Gallery at this time we request that you:

Stay at home if you are unwell.

Stay at home if you have been in contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 case.

Practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

Utilise hand sanitisers provided at the entrance of the gallery.

Assist our staff in filling out your contact tracing information on entry and exit from the gallery.

Maintain1.5 metres distance from other visitors and staff.

Comply with the number restrictions clearly signposted in each of the gallery spaces.

Comply with any written or verbal directions from staff.

Use contactless payment for any purchases made at the Drill Hall Gallery.

Consider downloading the COVIDSafe app if you have not already.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we appreciate your help in keeping our community safe during this time.

For information on ANU’s privacy policy please refer to:



Lucy Chetcuti


Lucy Chetcuti
6125 5832

Updated:  2 March 2021/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery