From Bollywood to Bharatnatyam, India's culture has seen it being dubbed as a 'soft superpower'. And the country's famed classical dances are drawing students from across the globe.
An 18-year-old Bharatnatyam dancer from Kazakhstan, a Russian who has been learning Mohiniyattam from the age of 10 and an American Odissi exponent, are among many who have shifted base to India because of their love for dance.
Dance exponent and Padmashree awardee Saroja Vaidyanathan, who trains students from across the globe in Bharatnatyam, says that the spiritual element of Indian dance attracts them.
"I have students from all over the world, Russia, Bulgaria, Spain, Brazil. The essence of Indian culture, art and spirituality attracts them and they want to be part of this culture," said Vaidyanathan.
One of her students, Kassiyet Adilkhankyzy left her homeland, Kazakhstan, in pursuit of her dream to be a world renowned Indian classical dancer.
"My mother's fascination for Indian culture is the reason why I became a classical dancer. Last year, I was part of the Bharatanatyam group which performed at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games," said the young dancer.
Russian Olga Stoliarova is so much in love with Indian culture that she has not only become a professional Mohiniyattam dancer but also changed her name to Priya.
Its been several years that she has been studying the dance form under the able guidance of Guru Padmashri Bharati Shivaji and Vijayalakshmi at the Centre for Mohiniyattam.
"I am from Moscow but my love for Indian classical dance made me come to India and there is no looking back. I have participated in many prestigious national and international dance festivals in India and Russia ever since," she said.Recently an event 'Unbound Beats of India' organised in the capital, saw the foreign artistes perform classical Indian dances, much to the audience's delight.
"The objective of the festival is to provide a platform for the encouragement of young dancers from abroad and provide them with an opportunity to present their artistic creativity," said the festival's organiser, Odissi exponent Ranjana Gauhar.
Amanda Geroy, who was one of the performers in the festival, is an American.
"I have been dancing since the age of six. I initially trained for seven years under the guidance of Guru Jyoti Rout in San Francisco. Since December, 2006 I have been living in Orissa and studying intensively under Srimati Sujata Mohapatra at Bhubaneswar," said Geroy.
Being born and brought up in the US, Pallavi Das started training in Odissi to be rooted to the Indian culture and now runs her own school in Washington DC.
"My father is part of a forum which promotes Indian Arts in America. Indian Classical dance is not as popular as Bollywood dancing but its catching up fast," says the dancer who has trained under the late Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.