The Sani Sisters Present: Swathi Jaisankar
By Praveena Somasundaram
Swathi Jaisankar is a computer engineering graduate from Boston University, with many dance accolades with IndianRaga and BU Jalwa, and has danced around the world. She joined Sani’s co-founders, Niki and Ritika Shamdasani, in a “Sani Sisters Present” Live session on Friday, speaking about her dance journey, balancing college and other projects, and interpreting social issues through art.
Jaisankar has been training in Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form, for 15 years and joined IndianRaga, an initiative that brings together artists from around the world for collaborations and fellowships, four years ago as a Bharatanatyam fellow.
“IndianRaga was really a huge step for me, trying out my own projects and really tap into that creativity and expressing myself as a dancer,” she said.
After being a fellow for one year, Jaisankar became a creative director for dance at IndianRaga, leading dance fellowships in places like Boston, Chicago and Virginia. She performed at the United Nations, the first time Bharatanatyam had been performed at the General Assembly, and also at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“I think every time I perform, it’s just as nerve-wracking because each time it’s a different audience that you’re performing for,” Jaisankar said. “So much effort goes into every single performance, whether it be five minutes or an hour.”
She’s also performed with other IndianRaga fellows at arts festivals like Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts.
“With audiences like that, we’re able to share our culture and our stories and our art form with people who maybe don’t know too much about it,” Jaisankar said. “And it’s so nice to be appreciated by that because they’re so willing to learn about our culture.”
Jaisankar studied computer engineering at Boston University and joined BU Jalwa, the university’s Bollywood fusion team. She was a dance lead in 2018 and 2019.
“I just wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone and that was one of the best decisions because I learned so many different dance styles,” she said.
Over the years, Jaisankar has worked on projects with different social justice themes. One project, titled “Revelations: Celebrating LGBTQ Stories Through Bharathanatyam Dance,” depicts the story of a daughter coming out to her mother.
“It was very special because not only does it bring out the LGBTQ awareness, but also it shows a bond between a mother and daughter, which is why I think so many people were able to relate to it,” she said.
Though she’s received criticism for choreographing at a young age, Jaisankar says she will continue working on personal and collaborative dance projects.
“You can never go off of numbers or anything like that, at the end of the day it’s just you do what you love,” Jaisankar said.