National Day Awards: Dance pioneer 'brings poetry to life'

Mrs Bhaskar, who was trained as a classical Indian dancer, blends other dance styles and elements like theatre and music into her choreography to help people "appreciate traditional arts".
Mrs Bhaskar, who was trained as a classical Indian dancer, blends other dance styles and elements like theatre and music into her choreography to help people "appreciate traditional arts".ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Mrs Santha Bhaskar

Artistic Director, Bhaskar's Arts Academy

Public Service Star

Dance pioneer Santha Bhaskar was trained as a classical Indian dancer in her youth, but has been unafraid to experiment with form and push boundaries, blending other dance styles and elements such as theatre, music and visual arts into her choreography.

"I hope to do more of such productions because they reach more people and help them to appreciate traditional arts," she said.

"For example, choreography can bring poetry to life."

For her contributions to Singapore's arts scene, Mrs Bhaskar was awarded the Public Service Star at this year's National Day Awards.

"I'm very honoured. It means a lot to me and my dancers, that there is recognition and appreciation of the art form of a minority group here," the 77-year-old told The Straits Times in a phone interview.

She is the artistic director of Bhaskar's Arts Academy, a performing arts group founded by her late husband K.P. Bhaskar, who died in 2013 from a heart-related illness. The couple have three children and four grandchildren.

Mrs Bhaskar was born in India and became a Singapore citizen in 1960. She heads the academy's dedicated teaching wing, the Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society, which offers courses in classical Indian music, dance, theatre and yoga.

One of her career highlights was receiving the Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest accolade for the arts, in 1990. She added: "When I choreograph and perform, I don't expect anything from anyone. All my productions, I do with passion and sincerity."

Lee Jian Xuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Dance pioneer 'brings poetry to life''. Print Edition | Subscribe