Born in 1951 in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), India Hema Rajagopalan immigrated to Chicago in 1974. At that time, she had a masters degree in nutrition and planned to work as a dietician but after dancing at an Indian community center, her life goals began to change. From her home, she started teaching Bharata Natyam classical Indian dance to a small group of children. The number of students grew and Rajagopalan founded the Natya Dance Theatre in 1975. Not only were children taught the 3000 year old classical dance form but a professional touring dance company emerged.
Besides leading the Natya Dance Theatre, Rajagopalan has performed as a soloist at prestigious venues throughout the world including the Edinburgh Festival, the Avignon Festival, the Ravinia Festival and the Kennedy Center. She has choreographed numerous short works and more than fifty large productions. Rajagopalan has received numerous awards including seven choreographic awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and an Emmy Award for the PBS production of World Stage Chicago. Throughout the decades of teaching Bharata Natyam, Rajagopalan has used her art to foster cross-cultural understanding and social harmony.
Why this stop? The Harrison Red Line stop is just a couple blocks from the Michigan Avenue administrative office of the Natva Dance Theater.
Listen to Studs Terkel interview Hema Rajagopalan
Connect—Watch the Natya Dance Theater live. Check out their website to learn of upcoming performances.