Traditions Thursdays: Dances of Gesture in Japanese and Indian Traditions

Join Naina Bhamidipati and Mari Kaneta for a conversation about gesture as a vehicle for storytelling in dance and the work of upholding a dance tradition outside its cultural homeland. Bhamidipati demonstrates bharathanatyam, a traditional dance from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, accompanied by her brother, Nitish, on the mridangam drum. Kaneta, founder and sensei at Tucson’s Suzuyuki Kai, demonstrates classical Japanese dance forms such as odori and kabuki.

Facilitator: KATE ALEXANDER, TMY Performance Curator
MARI KANETA, Japanese dancer and sensei
NAINA & NITISH BHAMIDIPATI, Bharathanatyam dancer and drummer

Panel Video


KATE ALEXANDER, TMY Festival Performance Curator

Panelist 1

MARI KANETA is founder of the Tucson-based Traditional Japanese Dance group Suzuyuki-Kai. She received her degree and professional training in Tokyo and received the dancing name “Suzuyuki” in 1973. Kaneta has performed at multicultural events in Phoenix and Tucson for the past 25 years and internationally in Caracas, Venezuela and Nogales, Mexico. Mari established the first Japanese dance class in Tucson in 1984. Traditional Japanese dance is taught orally, with direct instruction from the sensei and partnership with more experienced students. She was recognized by the Southwest Folklife Alliance, with a Master-Apprentice Artist Award in 2016 for her work preserving and passing on the tradition of Japanese dance. An April 2016 concert at Leo Rich Theatre in Tucson celebrated 40 years of her teaching. In 2018, she received the Woman of the Year award from the Pan Asian Community Alliance.

Panelist 2

NAINA BHAMIDIPATI is the founder of Kalactivity and currently a senior at University High School in Tucson. Naina is a bharatanatyam dancer of 10 years and has performed at many dance conventions, productions and gatherings. Most notably, she performed at the North American Telugu Association’s annual convention in Los Angeles in 2015. She has participated in Indian Raga certifications and has received High Distinction and Distinction for her work. Naina is passionate about women’s rights, women’s health issues, and female empowerment, and plans to pursue these interests by studying law or medicine.


Cultural Communities / Countries of Origins

Festival Appearance
TMY Virtual

Panel Date/Time
October 8, 2020 1:00 pm

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