About the Research Team
AUTHOR / DANCER: Anuradha Naimpally
Anuradha Naimpally is a classical Indian dancer of the Bharata Natyam style, who has won numerous international awards. Her mesmerizing performances gained her the recognition as "Best Dancer" in 2000 by the Austin Area Critics' Circle. Anuradha is an Indian born dancer who spent most of her childhood in Canada. Her parents provided a nurturing environment for artistic creativity through their involvement in organizing performances and workshops within the community. Facilitated by this involvement, she was able to learn her first steps under Dr. Menaka Thakkar of Toronto. Love for dance brought her back to India to study professionally for several years under Gurus Venugopal and Jayashree Pillai of Bombay. Later she also studied with Acharya Parvati Kumar and briefly with Dr. Padma Subrahmaniam.
Anuradha has been performing worldwide for over 25 years. In 1989 she was awarded the prestigious Jacqueline LeMieux Prize by the Canada Council, making her the only Indian classical dancer to receive this high honor. She was bestowed the title of Sringar Mani, "Artistic Jewel", in Bombay after her performance at the Kal-Ke-Kalakar Festival in 1990.
With an Honors B.A. in Philosophy and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance, Anuradha combines artistry with scholarship. Numerous study grants and honors have allowed her to continue research and study of ancient Sanskrit texts. She has been on the faculty of various universities around Austin, such as University of Texas, St. Edward's, Southwestern, and Austin Community College. She serves on the thesis advising committee for students researching topics on Indian dance.
Anuradha has been actively involved in teaching youth in many capacities. In Canada she participated in artist-in-residence teaching programs, workshops, and lecture-demonstrations in public schools. In Austin, she has been a teacher with Ballet Austin's Leaps and No Bounds Program in public schools. Through One World Theatre, she presents assembly performances on Indian dance and culture in Austin area schools. Anuradha is also an active performer and collaborator in Austin today and continues to renew her ties with the Canadian dance scene. In addition to performing solo and participating in the Kalanidhi Dance Festival in Toronto, she collaborates with many artists and companies.
She has lived in Austin, TX since 1989 and teaches Bharata Natyam technique through her organization, Tanjore Performing Arts. She has trained students through their arangetram (professional level debut recital) and continues to train professional teachers and performers of other dance genres. She has most recently been offering classes in Vedic chanting and devotional bhajan songs. Anuradha is married to Sadu Bajekal, an engineer, and they are blessed with two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. Rishi is an award winning salsa maker who enjoys playing percussion and Purna is an award winning composer who is also a dedicated student of Bharata Natyam dance.
PHOTOGRAPHER / MEDIA DESIGNER: Russ Smith
Russ Smith is a talented individual who has had the opportunity to delve into a variety of fields. He is a poet, musician, computer scientist, medical researcher, graphic designer, sound engineer, record producer, multimedia producer, and much more. Each of these roles he performs with great interest and skill.
Independent at the age of 15, Russ attended the High School for the Health Professions in Dallas, TX, where he studied the foundations of medical science such as patient care, medical technology, anatomy/physiology, pathology and more. He went on to continue medical research at UT Southwestern Medical School/Parkland Hospital.
With this solid background, Russ was offered a Primary Healthcare Internship with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, West Indies. Following this, he proceeded to do research in the medical field with such renowned doctors as Dr. William Shive and Cellular Biology research Dr. Steven Myer. Under full scholarship, Russ went on to complete an Bachelors degree in Zoology with an emphasis in Molecular Biology and Neuro-Physiology with a minor emphasis in Computer Music at the University of Texas at Austin. His final year was devoted to studying the links between neurotransmitter physiology and acupuncture.
After volunteering as a children's counselor at the Center for Battered Women focusing on Art Therapy, Russ served for over 3 years in an appointed position as Arts Commissioner for the City of Austin, Texas. He also served on the Arts in Public Places Board for the City of Austin. Some of the more interesting projects that Russ has worked on include media design for Sister Helen Prejean's Moratorium Campaign in 2001, he provided production support for Tom Jones and INXS in Willie Nelson's studio for Interscope Records, he composed pieces for the soundtrack for the cult classic Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and he appeared in a small part in the Richard Linklater film, The Newton Boys.
Since 1993, Russ has been executive producer of his own company, Chocolate Media through which he has lent his artistic talents to several high profile projects such as Lance Armstrong's EPK (Blue Plate Design) and producing/directing David Garza's EPK (Atlantic Records) in addition to producing multimedia for various artists and the corporate world. In that same year, Russ began Chocolate Records, a company that supports international and local independent artists and has produced 16 CD's on its label to date. In addition to producing CD's, Chocolate Records also promotes and distributes various artists worldwide.
Russ is widely traveled and has documented and recorded traditional and ceremonial folk music in rural areas of China, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Hong Kong, Peru, and India. In addition to several other projects, he is currently working on a documentary on Hasta Mudras with Anuradha Naimpally, tracing the usage of these hand symbols through performing and healing arts. Russ lives in Austin, TX where he writes poetry, studies yoga, bakes chocolate delicacies and works on many fascinating projects.