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Portland's creative laureate Subashani Ganesan, students present multicultural program

If you go

What: Celebration of Classical Indian Arts: Dance, Music and Poetry, presented by Portland's Creative Laureate Subashini Ganesan

When: 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 25

Where: Gresham Library, 385 N.W. Miller Ave., Gresham

Admission: Free


COURTESY PHOTO  - Portlands Cultural Laureate Subashini Ganesan, center, leads a group of dancers in one of the many styles of dance to be presented on Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Gresham Library.   The rich dance, poetry and music traditions of India will come to life at the Gresham Library in a program presented by Subashini Ganesan, founder and director of New Expressive Works (N.E.W.) and Portland's official creative laureate.

A Celebration of Classical Indian Arts: Dance, Music and Poetry, held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Gresham Library, brings together five dance styles from across India through talented, multi-generational artists from Multnomah and Washington counties. The performers aim to evoke the emotional depth of Indian dance forms through intricate rhythms, vibrant costuming and emotive storytelling.

Ganesan, who was named Portland's cultural laureate in 2018, said she has presented the program at the central Multnomah County Library in downtown Portland as well as the Kenton Library to "diverse and packed audiences."

"I will introduce several classical dance forms and their accompanying music from India," she said of the performance. "This is a great way for Gresham residents to experience the artistic diversity of South Asian performers in our region."

Dance forms presented at the event will include Bharathanatyam by students at Ganesan's dance academy, Natya Leela Academy; Kathak by Sitara Lones; Kuchipudi by Nartana Kuchipudi; and Odissi by Yashaswini Raghuram, along with other dancers.

COURTESY PHOTO  - A Celebration of Classical Indian Arts: Dance, Music and Poetry at the Gresham Library will feature five dance styles from across India performed by multi-generational dancers from the Portland area.  Born in Singapore, Ganesan said she started learning Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form Tamil Nadu, India, when she was 4 years old. She eventually moved to the United States to go to college in Rochester, N.Y., and worked in public policy initiatives in Washington, D.C. before moving to Portland in 2001.

In 2008, she started N.E.W. in Portland and focused increasingly on teaching and choreography.

"In my desire to bring Bharatanatyam to more audiences in Portland and beyond, I became a teaching artist through Young Audiences and the Right Brain Initiative," Ganesan said, noting both organizations focus on integrating multi-disciplinary arts into regional public and private schools.

The groups have performed at the Salem Library, Folklife Festival in Seattle, and Beaverton's Ten Tiny Dances event, among many other venues.

Headquartered in Southeast Portland, N.E.W.'s goals include making "all cultural genres equally visible," highlighting the "excellence of different artistic processes," and maintaining "fully accessible practice and performances spaces."

COURTESY PHOTO  - Born in Singapore, Subashini Ganesan started learning Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance form Tamil Nadu, India, when she was four years old. She has lived in Portland since 2001. As the creative laureate of Portland, Ganesan serves as the official ambassador for the broader creative community in Portland. Ganesan and N.E.W. have received RACC's 2018 Juice! Award and White Bird's 2019 Community Engagement Award, for making affordable space possible to artists and arts organizations.    

"Between 2012 and 2014, we were serving 50 to 100 independent performing artists per year, including local and regional artists," she said. "In the past couple years, that's gone up to 200."

Chelsea Bailey, Multnomah County Library spokeswoman, noted Ganesan's celebration is "one of hundreds of programs" the library offers each month.

"A library is more than books," she noted. "It's a place to discover and celebrate diversity and rich traditions within our community, and offering cultural programs is one way we do that."

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