Aparnaa Nagesh was born in Chennai, India, into a very musical family. Formal training started “quite late at 15” but the joy of moving started long before then, and she remembers dancing around to ABBA music. She would run home from school, to catch the two hours of Western music on a radio station, kick her sister out of the room and just enjoying moving.
Aparna explored classical Indian styles of dance as well as Western, joining a school that offered a wide variety of classes. She acknowledges this as a strength of her early years of dance, explaining that dance is “vast for me”, describing her style as a “global fusion”.
After 12 years of dancing in the company in India, she travelled to New York at the age of 27 supported by a scholarship. Aparna remembers a period in New York, three weeks into the company of wanting “to pack it in” and return home. It was one of the many times of self reflection and growth, her relationship to dance being tested. Acknowledging that while they are highly uncomfortable, she recognises the value and strength in reflecting and checking in. “I treat dance is like a relationship” and sees it as a time to “to be by myself and with myself”.
High Kicks is a youth ensemble founded, in 2011, with a focus on empowerment, challenging boundaries and the diversity of dance. The company has recently shifted from being an all girls collective, to being inclusive of anyone who identifies as female, as well people who gender-diverse or gender fluid. Aparna acknowledged the need for this shift to ensure that everyone feel included and able to dance in a safe space. She imparts the importance of everyone’s individual journey, and states the important truth of “just because they know something you don’t , doesn’t mean that you don’t know anything.”
Aparna is a generous, enthusiastic and reflective person who was an absolute pleasure to interview. Her honesty and genuineness was infectious and the way she talked about dancing was highly inspiring. Aparna’s commitment to dance and the significance of moving and being with other people is affirming. Being able to talk with someone liked minded and excited about dance, just reinforces why we do what we do.
Text and interview by Piroska Voljay who is an Australlian Youth Dance Festival, Youth Ambassadors. This season was presented in partnersip with Ausdance Victoria, in conjunction with the Australian Youth Dance Festival (AYDF). Youth Ambassadors were mentored in the process of writing and undertaking interviews. Additional episodes feature: Adam Wheeler, Daniel Riley, Anna Kenrick, Adam Rutherford, Cadi McCarthy, and Isabella Stone. For more information about this special season click here.