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Austrian Radha dances to Indian tunes

Radha Anjali could be easily mistaken for an Indian, but she is actually a born Austrian.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 20:50 IST

She is conspicuous in every Indian gathering here. With her kohl-lined eyes, prominent bindi, bright sari and perfect Sanskrit, Radha Anjali could be easily mistaken for an Indian, but she is actually a born Austrian.

This exponent of Indian classical dances, who prefers to forget her given name for the one her guru bestowed on her, says she was "fascinated by India and Indian culture" at a very young age.

"I was fascinated by India and Indian culture through my parents. Both of them were in love with Indian philosophy and culture," said the light-eyed Bharatanatyam danseuse, who has vivid memories of her first journey to India.   

Radha Anjali (C) performing with her troupe

"I travelled throughout India with my parents in 1972. We did not fly at all. We reached India by ship and then we crisscrossed the country by train. It was an unforgettable trip during which I learnt a lot about India and its beauty," Anjali told IANS.

Currently a classical dance professor at Sportinstitut of the University of Vienna, she also runs a dance school, Natya Mandir, in the Austrian capital, which has almost 100 students.

Although she hails from a family of architects, Anjali is considered the most prominent representative of the Bharatanatyam classical dance style across Europe.

After beginning her training at the age of eight, she met the Indian dancer Kama Dev in 1978. Fascinated by his personality and way of teaching, she intensively studied the "divine art".

Her love for the Indian arts brought her back to India frequently. She later became a disciple of Adyar K. Lakshman in his Bharatha Choodamani Academy of Fine Arts in Chennai. She studied dance from Kalanidhi Narayanan in her institute Abhinaya Sudha in Chennai as well.

Anjali has also been studying the ancient dance form of Seraikella Chhau since 1994 and is learning Kuchipudi at the Raja-Radha Reddy school of dance in New Delhi.

"I have been trying to translate the Sanskrit slogans into German. Although we succeeded, it's very difficult to retain the original meanings. I have attempted to integrate the language of Bharatanatyam into western dance," she said during an interactive session to discuss problems faced by the Indian community with visiting Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi in Vienna.

Her troupe has performed many Indian classical epics, including the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

"She does not miss any Indian programmes," said Anup Kumar Mudgal, deputy chief of the Indian mission in Vienna.

Anjali travels throughout Europe and frequently visits India to perform.