With over three decades of prolific international productions, Apsaras Arts has grown into a dance company that has gained recognition in Indian dance-theatre, enjoying successful performances worldwide. Apsaras Arts, through creative innovations and bold collaborations, aspires to instill awareness of Indian dance forms in Adelaide, maintain the best standards of performance and cultivate an interest in the rich heritage and traditions of Indian Arts.
Apsaras Arts was founded in Singapore in 1977 by Shri S Sathyalingam and Smt Neila Sathyalingam of Kalakshetra, India. With an initial student strength of about 20 dance students, Apsaras Arts has expanded in size and significance. Several senior dancers of Apsaras Arts have branched out to form their own dance institutions both under the name of Apsaras Arts and in their own names, in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, France and the United States.
Since 2007, Apsaras Arts has emerged as a premier professional performing company, focusing on creating new works at international and national festivals, corporate events and during its seasonal performances.
Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest of the four main classical dance forms prevailing in India. With a history dating back two thousand years, it was developed from ritualistic dances performed as offerings to the deities of Hindu temples.
In Bharatanatyam, rhythm and enactment go hand in hand to create a beautiful whole.
There are two main aspects to the dance form. 'Nritta' is pure dance, performed for the sake of its own beauty, and 'Nrithya', which consists of both Nritta and emotive expression (Abhinaya).
Abhinaya is the art of expression. It is the medium of presentation by which one can convey one's ideas and the feelings to others without speech but by means of mudras (hand gestures), mime, facial expression and movements of the body.
In a Bharatanatyam performance, all the various elements of the presentation find their focus in the dancer and become unified within the performer. The 'nattuvanar' articulates the rhythm of the dancer’s movements, the singer expresses the thoughts through lyrics, and the accompanying musicians create a musical background to invoke the mood. The audience is then able to completely identify with dancer.
Classical Indian dance, when performed with an understanding of the philosophical vision and technical wizardry of those who founded and shaped its style, is incredibly modern in its stress on the distilled essence of the most abstract ideas engaging the modern mind.
As for Bharatanatyam, the most beautiful thing about it could be its sense of beauty, A deep awareness of human emotions and the intense need to share and bond with people.
With her Sri Lankan ethnicity, Singaporean upbringing and Australian husband, Somi has had a melting pot of cultures hold her heart. But the one passion that has, to this day, secured a significant spot in her heart, is her love for her dance.
Somi Somehsa took her first steps in Bharatanatyam at the age of 5. Under the tutelage of Shrimati Neila Sathyalingam, founder and artistic director of Apsaras Arts (Singapore), Somi gained invaluable experience from a young age through countless public performances on stage, both in her home country and overseas. With a multicultural performing arts troupe commissioned by the Government of Singapore to promote the country’s multi ethnic diaspora, Somi represented Singapore as a “Singapore Little Angel” from 1994- 1997. This not only boosted her exposure to performing on an international stage at a young age, but also kindled her interest to showcase and share the splendour of her art with different cultures.
By the age of 15, Somi had staged her Arangetram, a solo dance debut. The presenting of an Arangetram is likened to a graduation, after which the dancer is deemed competent to teach. Following her Arangetram, Somi spent many of her school holidays in India, undergoing specialised training in some of the most esteemed dance colleges and continually honing her craft.
In her performing journey with Apsaras Arts, Somi continued to represent the academy through collaborations with various Government-sponsored events. The Singapore Arts Festival, Esplanade’s Kalautsavam and WOMAD were some of the many local and international festivals held in Singapore that Somi routinely performed for. At the pinnacle of her dancing career, she was also featured in several lead roles in some of the dance academy’s key dance productions.
Somi now lovingly calls Adelaide home, after having initially moved here to study in 2003. She has continued to dance, and has established Apsaras Arts Adelaide, with the hopes of continuing to share and spread the art form. She specialises in “Bala- Bharatham” a syllabus of Bharatanatyam specially tailored for children, and continues to perform widely.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day Festival
International Folklore Festival
International Arts Festival
17th National Asean Cultural Festival
Adelaide Fringe Festival
National Day Parade
Aarupadai (Lead Cast)
Singapore, Australia, India, Sri Lanka
Chidhambara Ragasiyam (Lead Cast)