Gupte Bhisé has been performing Bharatanatyam extensively
in the United States and India to the acclaim of critics as an intelligent
performer with a keen sense of aesthetics. She had her debut in
New Delhi under the auspices of the Center of Indian Classical Dances
(CICD) of which her guru Padmabhushan Smt. Sonal Mansingh is the
founder. Since 1981 she has also studied under Kalaimamani Guru
Shri T.S. Kadhirvellu Pillai.
Her recitals in India include performances for prestigious institutions
like the National Center for the Performing Arts, Bombay, Sahitya
Kala Parishad Delhi Administration Cultural Department; SPICMACAY,
Bharatiya Kala Kendra House of Soviet Culture and others. Overseas,
she has had several concert recitals in the Far East, Europe,
and North America. A notable performance was at the United Nations
where she was given the honor to perform for the General Assembly
for the 40th anniversary of the United Nations. Swati performed for the 43rd anniversary of the establishment of
Diplomatic Relations between the USSR and India on the 16th of April,
1990 at the House of the Soviet Culture in Mumbai.
Apart from being a concert performer, Swati has taught extensively
and conducted workshops at several leading institutions including
Columbia University, New York University, University of Austin
Texas, St. Marks Academy (Dallas), the Dalton School, Brearley
School, Chapin School, the School of Practical Philosophy, Brooklyn
College, the Bronx Museum and Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Since 1988, she has performed and lectured for the Education Department
for the American Museum of Natural History on topics such as “Rasa
in Theory and Practice”, “The effects of European
Colonization on Ancient Art”, “Role of Women in Hindu
Mythology”. Since July 1997, a series of schools from the
Bronx, Queens and Manhattan have been exposed to dance and lectures
by Swati with her orchestra under the auspices of Symphony Space’s
Curriculum in Arts Program.
at educational performances
and concerts for the Metropolitan Museum, Wesleyan University,
and Lincoln Center Institute have been regularly exposed to her
natural interpretive dance form and narration. In Spring 1998,
the Freer and Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian saw Swati perform
in a traditional evening long solo recital in conjunction with
their exhibition of the “Role of Sakhi” in the Gita
Govinda” a 12th century work which she choreographed. Keeping
in mind the need to simplify the art form she briefly explains
using stylized gestures to enable lay audiences to have the full
import of the art.
conscientious purist of Indian classical dance, she has often
worked to interpret western theatre using the art of Abhinaya
and has choreographed the ethnic dance choreography for the Thomas
Mann musical “The Transposed Heads” at Lincoln Center
for the American Music Theatre Festival, the Electronic Opera
“Mass for the Dead” by American Chamber Opera Company
where she played the lead role and “Daddy meets Durga”
for Mabou Mines.
Whether performing on the banks of the Yamuna River to celebrate
the birth of Krishna or for Tiffany's or Sony Corporation in New
York, Swati makes the space her temple to bring forth the art
in its full glory. References of the Dance magazine and New York
Times have found her dance style uniquely eloquent in its presentation.
She has traveled extensively along the U.S. Eastern seaboard performing
in Universities, and schools both public and private. Her goal
has been to create awareness and a truly appreciative audience
of this unique and rich classical tradition. She has also worked
with disabled and remedial students in uniquely challenging projects,
stimulating their minds and getting them interested in culture
and non-verbal communication.
Swati has her own institute in New York which is a branch of CICD,
her alma mater in New Delhi, and presents all her concerts through
the Center. In 1998, she presented her first student in a full-length
concert at the Stuyvesant high school in New York to an audience
of artists and well-wishers where she conducted the program wielding
the symbols equivalent to a Western conductor. Swati’s student
was in 9 years of grueling training in order to present this dance
Working in an area where she is educating a K-12 audience in the
five boroughs of New York has been a challenging task, as the institutions
have no reference to the culture, religion or ethos of the art form,
but are simply filling a niche in their curriculum of “multi-culturalism”.
The traditional format of what Bharatanatyam or Indian dance is
perceived has been modified in order to be perceived in a contemporary
context yet keeping the basic essence of the art and traditions.
In the past
5 years, Swati has performed for Symphony Space (under the CAP project)
in Arts Promotion visiting over 50 groups of students in the tri-state
area schools, as well as those in Westchester County, at Rochester,
Delaware and Binghamton Universities. Schools, in which security
measures and metal detectors are commonplace, have witnessed this
art form and students participated actively once they have been
involved in the workshops. The ensemble has also performed in a
variety of public schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan –
many times where classrooms have had to serve multiple purposes
- such as the cafeteria being used for classrooms. This is the third
year, Swati and 2 accompanists are performing this service as the
program was so successful. In schools, where topics such as “teen
pregnancies”, “unwed mothers”, and “drug
abuse in schools” are the norm, these Bharatanatyam performances
are being received enthusiastically. In other schools such as Brearley,
Chapin, Dalton, and Browning that only have an average of 3-4 students
of Indian origin in the student body to participate in this dance
form is a unique experience for the children. As they travel to
a distant land through this art form, they are exposed and enriched
by the Indian classical dance incorporated in the school curriculum.
Apart from students as the audience, Swati also continues the relationship
with the Lincoln Center Institute and performs for audiences of
teachers and artists from other universities, and the Bank Street
School, which trains teachers. This audience attends in order to
study and analyze the art form, and to participate in a 20-minute
question and answer session that follows the performance. Having
previously studied the dance style through videos and notes sent
by the performer, the participants receive an in-depth exposure
to the art form. Swati performed in conjunction with Asia Society’s
Binney Collection of the San Diego Museum’s Power and Desire.
The performance was supported by an Annenberg grant. In 1994-95
Swati performed in conjunction with the Brooklyn Museum’s
exhibit Realms of Heroism. She has consistently worked with curators
and educators to combine different expressions of art with her dance.
Swati has served on panels at Lincoln Center Library and the American
Museum of Natural History for promotion of Asian arts. In 1992,
she taught at the Brearly School as the first artist-in-residence
and since then works on a semester basis with different grades where
the students perform and chant shlokas at assembly as a culmination
of their studies.
Swati performed extensively for the Delaware Institute for the
Arts in Education and is also working with the School for the
Deaf along with Children with special needs in Wilmington Delaware.
She is always accompanied by a vocalist and a drummer. A flute
and/or a violin and other percussion instruments are also added
in certain concerts. The performing group continues to work in
the hopes of creating a deeper understanding of this rich complex
culture within a society that is generally alien to such ancient
traditions of a bygone era.
Swati has also performed on March 28th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the opening of the South Asian Sculpture Wing. Swati presented original choreographic works based on the concept of SHIVA and SHAKTI, the male and feminine force of energy as well as exploring the dynamic images of the goddess from the HINDU PANTHEON through Sringara-love.
Swati has served on several panels both as advisor and as a moderator.