Watching the arangetram of a young US-based dancer in Mumbai, a renowned dance scholar and guru had remarked that the art had been brought back to India in its purest form. The remark speaks volumes for the training the young dancer underwent at her dance school run by North Carolina-based Bengalurean Supriya Desai.
For Supriya, whose Payal Dance Academy turned 26 recently, quality is paramount.
“One thing that satisfies me immensely, more than any award, is the regard people here have for me as a teacher, choreographer and director,” says Supriya, who has earned praise from critics and gurus for the quality of her teaching and the standard of her arangetrams, dance productions and presentations.
Her accomplishments earned her the first Heritage India Excellence Award in 2003 for the most outstanding teacher for classical dance in Raleigh.
Supriya arrived in USA as an already accomplished dancer with several titles but had to start from scratch in the new place. Within two years of landing in Los Angeles, Supriya moved to Raleigh, with her eight-month-old daughter and husband. Payal Dance Academy’s long journey began in Raleigh in 1993 with a fund-raiser performance for a local temple. Supriya soon took her performances to 17 cities across the US, which was quite an achievement for someone who had just landed in the country. Having achieved 23 arangetrams over this period, Supriya has ensured that her students attain technical perfection, which has been her hallmark as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.
How did she achieve all this in a new land with two young children to raise? “My husband Surendra has been my support system,” says Supriya. “It was a challenge to build contacts in a new place. But soon, Supriya and her Payal Dance Academy became household names in Raleigh. Her school and her productions showed the local community how rich and profound Indian culture is,” says Supriya’s husband Surendra Desai.
Besides teaching, performing and choreographing bharatanatyam and kuchipudi, Supriya has been active in promoting Kannada culture and encouraging Karnataka’s artistes in the US.