(October 29, 2022) She was on a summer break, waiting to start school again in a few weeks when she first received the news that she had been nominated for the US Presidential Scholars Award in the Arts. Chosen among students from 25 states, Shreyah Mohanselvan, a native of Tamil Nadu, was thrilled to know that the government recognised her passion for classical Indian dance forms that she had been learning since she was four years old. Aspiring to be a professional dancer someday, this youngster has attained outstanding prowess in five different dance forms including ballet, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi.
“Dance is not just my passion but a fascination for me. I gave in to my obsession with dancing at the age of four. I started with ballet at the New Albany Ballet Company and went on to learn Indian classical dance forms including Bharatanatyam,” Shreyah said to Travel Beats, an Indian American community portal. Undeniably, dancing is her comfort zone and favorite stress buster. However dancing is just the tip of the huge talent iceberg for this young Global Indian. A brilliant student, Shreyah Mohanselvan is equally talented in science and engineering. A recent graduate from Rice University in Texas, where she earned a degree in computer science, the dancer is currently working as a Product Manager with Microsoft.
Ballet to Bharatnatyam
Born to Mohanselvan Subramanian and Sumathi Mohanselvan, who immigrated to the USA from India in the early 90s, Shreyah would tap her feet to any kind of music even as a toddler. And so, recognising her talent, her parents decided to put Shreyah in a local dance class. However, while she was good at ballet, the dancer wasn’t satisfied with what she was learning. It was her mother, who after sensing her curiosity to learn more, decided to take her to her first Bharatnatyam class.
The sounds of ghunghroo and taal mesmerised Shreyah from the get-go and there was no turning back. Over the years, the young dancer learnt not one but two major classical dances of India – Bharatnatyam, and Odissi. “The two dance forms have differences and similarities, and sometimes it is difficult to force the body to be true to both of these two conflicting dance forms,” she explained in an interview with City Scene Columbus.
Recognition comes calling
Shreyah, however, is not just a dancer, she is an award-winning dancer. The youngster claimed the first place in the Federation of Indian Associations of Central Ohio’s Indian solo dance competition for three consecutive years. She also has three first-place and two second-place finishes in the Vindhya Cultural Association in Columbus, a competition that attracts talent from all across the state.
In 2018, she was presented with a National Young Arts Winner Honorable Mention Award in Indian/classical dance. The youngster owes her nomination for the 2018 US Presidential Scholars Award to Carolina García Jayaram, President, and CEO of the Miami-based National YoungArts Foundation which is one of the partners for this National Recognition Programme.
No pain, no gain?
But, as they say, no achievement comes without pain. Throughout her school life, this youngster followed a very strict daily routine to stay on top of not just her dance practice, but also her academics. So much so that, while others her age were enjoying all kinds of junk food, the 20-year-old had a diet plan scheduled for her. “I always eat balanced meals to maintain my energy and stamina. Around the time of major rehearsals and performances, I pay extra attention to my diet and sleep to make sure I can maintain my focus and energy levels,” she shared during one of the interviews.
A bright youngster, who also served as the student council president at her school, Shreyah has big plans for the future. Even though she is working full-time at Microsoft now, the youngster continues to practice every day early in the morning and wishes to start her professional journey as a dancer soon. Although her schedule can sometimes be exhausting, the young dancer believes, “If one is doing something she loves, she is already doing something amazing.”
- Follow Shreyah Mohanselvan on LinkedIn