Gannon Professor to Present Program of Indian Classical Dance
Posted: April 3, 2017
Anjali Sahay, Ph.D. is both associate professor of Political
Science and International Studies and faculty senate President at
Gannon University. Balancing those roles doesn't give her a lot of
time to spare. But Sahay is also an accomplished practitioner of
kathak, the ancient Indian dance form that will be the subject of
her two-part program at the upcoming TEDxPSUBehrend conference on
Saturday, April 8.
The first portion, "Vandana Trayee," begins with a dedication to
the Hindu god Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, and the goddess
Saraswati, the patroness of knowledge and the arts, and a reverence
to the Guru or teacher, seen as equivalent to God. The music is a
raga by the late sitar master Ravi Shankar and his pupil, George
Harrison of the Beatles.
The second portion is a presentation of "Tarana" one of the most
beautiful pieces in the Kathak repertoire with complex rhythmic
patterns marked by intricate footwork, delicate and ornate hand
movements and dizzying spins or pirouettes that accompany the
musical syllables. "Tarana" is an acknowledgement of Sahay's own
guru, Padmashree Shovana Narayan, who taught her kathak.
A short summary of the history and meaning of kathak and its
roots in Hindu religious practice and its transformation over time
were presented at Gannon University's annual Humanities CHESS
Conference in February.
Sahay believes that her dance is simultaneously both local and
global, traditional and contemporary. In notes for the performance,
she stated her purpose as "to challenge established norms and
develop the courage to dance [my] own dance, while at the same time
being informed about the heritage, cultures, influences and
language of other dance styles and forms, viewpoints and
"Dance keeps me rooted to my tradition, background and culture
and helps me to have a creative outlet in my life," Sahay said. "At
the same time, it helps me showcase my culture to a different
audience. My child is American-born and she would not know her
culture if I didn't expose her to it. My students are also
interested in knowing this aspect of their teacher, and they're
getting inspired to explore the next round of TED talks."
Registration for the series of TEDx talks is available by