Asha Bala

2018 North Carolina Heritage Award Recipient

“Dedicating my life to the performing arts has not always been easy, but I would not trade it for anything in the world. The meeting of minds, the meeting of cultures, the richness of this confluence makes it all worthwhile.” — Asha Bala


Asha Bala is a performer, scholar, and instructor of the South Indian classical dance tradition Bharatanatyam. She has shared her passion for dance and culture with students throughout the Triangle and Fayetteville areas since 2002.

Asha received worldwide recognition for her performances at prestigious venues such as the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Music Academy in Chennai, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai. Bharatanatyam is an ancient spiritual practice in South India based on the text Natya Sastra. After many years of intense training, students participate in a solo performance that signifies the shift from student to performer. Asha has successfully guided dozens of young women through this ardurous process.

She trained extensively in Mumbai, India, receiving an MFA in classical dance, and she also studied at American University in Washington, D.C., receiving a master of fine arts in modern dance. She draws on both modern dance training and Sanskrit oral tradition to teach the complex poses, rhythms, and hand gestures of Bharatanatyam.

She has taught Bharatanatyam to Indian diaspora communities in North Carolina and in modern dance programs at Fayetteville’s E.E. Smith High School and Fayetteville State University, and maintains private studios in Fayetteville and Cary.

Bala’s artistic outreach endeavors includes teaching dance as holistic care to empower individuals with disabilities and special needs.

Known affectionately as “Aunty” by her students, Bala practices a personalized approach to assist student’s individual needs.

“…discipline, enthusiasm and encouragement pushed me to become the best version of myself. I’ve never known someone who believed in the power of art like she does and teaches the way she does. She teaches with patience. She teaches with intention. She teaches with love.”

—Student of Asha

 

Explore her work

Arangetram performance by one of Asha's students