Smitha Paily is an accomplished performer, award winning choreographer and instructor of traditional and modern Indian dances. She has been taking dance classes in Louisville for many years. Her passion for dancing and teaching children, made her create the Natya Kendra Dance Academy in Louisville. She has taught children aged 5-18 years and adults of different backgrounds. Her talent and knowledge of Indian dances are well recognized and respected by many individuals and organizations. Smitha has performed extensively in India, United States and Canada and she and her students have won numerous awards. They have performed for various fund raising events including the American Cancer Society, Catholic Charities of Louisville, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Crusade for Children and for various festivals and cultural exchange programs. She has done solo performances at the Kentucky Center of the Performing Arts and her students have done multiple performances at the Kentucky Center of the Performing Arts. She is currently teaching Indian Dance at the Sacred Heart School for the Arts in Louisville, Kentucky. Smitha has been featured multiple times in the Courier- Journal Newspaper, WAVE 3 TV News, WLKY news, WDRB-FOX TV & WHAS-11 news. Smitha has conducted Dance workshops in Louisville and has taken classes on Indian Dances at various universities in Kentucky. Smitha has her own unique style of choreography and she has recently choreographed various dance dramas and dance performances that include classical and modern dance forms of India. Her dance performances include traditional authentic costumes and appropriate props. Her vision is to share and teach the art of Indian dance to adults and children, to increase their love for this art medium and to enhance their self-confidence.
Potential Residency Project
The goal of this project is to increase self-confidence and self-esteem by introducing students to the art of Indian dance (classical & Bollywood dance). This will provide an outlet for self-expression and an opportunity to learn something new and fun and to get exposure to the diversity in Indian culture. The project will introduce the students to the history and the influence of dance in Indian culture and the technical aspects of Indian dance. The students will be excited to learn about the meaning of the hand gestures that are used in the Indian classical dance and how they are incorporated into the dance. The dances will be selected according to the age of the participants.
Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam & Mohiniattam) was created not merely for pleasure; it teaches wisdom and discipline. Hand gestures and facial expressions are used to communicate the ideas and thoughts to the audience.
Indian Bollywood dance is a blend of East and West. The term Bollywood is derived from the film industry in India - a combination of Bombay, a city in India, and Hollywood. In this form of dance, dancers dance according to high beat rhythm and music. The dance is a fusion of traditional and classical Indian dances with the influence of some jazz, hip hop and modern dance. This dance form is a fun work out with no age limit and anyone with no dance background can pick up this dance form. Bollywood dance is not only for entertainment, but can help to lose weight and increase self-confidence.
The 5-10 day residency project on Indian dance will be appropriate for grades K-12.
Indian dances, both Classical and Bollywood help children to engage in a multicultural experience and at the same time help to lose weight with physical activity in this era of video games. The program offers students the skills to develop their own talents in creating, performing, and responding to dance beyond the regular classroom. Based on their interests, the students will be taught the traditional or the Bollywood dance.
I will establish clear goals and expectations at the beginning of the lesson, so that there is no confusion or uncertainty about the class objectives. The parents will receive information about the project and what their children are learning. The students will be given a brief introduction about Indian culture and Indian dance in the beginning. The class teachers will always be present in the classroom to assist the artist with the instructions. The students are shown the basic steps. The students repeat the steps along with me. During this, the dancers learn about their distinctive potential, understand each other’s skills and learn to give opinions in a constructive way. The students are given the opportunity to understand, experience the elements of dance (space, time, force) and create dance with locomotor and non-locomotor movements. The students will be able to experience the purpose of dance, ceremonial or recreational. At the end of the session, assessment sheets, based on the age of the child and grade level, will be given to each student. The students will do a performance on what they learned at the end of the session in front of an audience. This will give the students an experience about the use of props, stage presence and dance techniques.
This project can be incorporated into social studies in learning the different aspects and diversity of Indian culture, physical education for fun and fitness, and arts and humanities classes. As a teaching artist, the most rewarding part of my life is when I see the faces of students after their performance in front of an audience who didn’t think they could do it.