1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Can foreigners perform Indian arts better than Indians? May 30, 2008

 image credit: SY Ukraine

It is really possible? I would say no, because I also never heard anybody singing Russian songs with a greater expression than Russians themselves…

However I am not sure any more when it comes to Indian Arts, because they seem to be of a para-national character (due to their spiritual character? – I guess spirit is an international unity).

Since years I am very much interested in Indian Arts, which are incredibly beautiful and (alas!)still largely unknown in the West. I have seen many performances of Indian masters (vocal, instrumental and dance) live and on videos which gave me quite a feeling for this special art.

The other day I read in the RIAN Russian news about the Indian Dance Festival that has taken place in New Delhi this week: 6 artists from Japan, USA, France, Ukraine, South Corea and Croatia performed before Indian public their art of the Indian Classical Dance (different styles).

An artist who was interview I know personally and therefore my interest was drown to that article even more (an abstract translated by me): “Lena Lakshmi from Ukraine lives in India since 10 years and studies Indian Classical Dance  kuchipudi in Chennai, South India. Lena referrers to the traditional Indian dance as an art, which is full of awareness and spirituality, compared to the Western Classical dance. Indian Arts are great and very deep. The Kuchipudi Dance is the worship of God, it is the Yoga – says Lena. She learned her first dance from a video tape while living in Ukraine. Her performance in Kiev that time was seen by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga. Shri Mataji was so much impressed by Lena`s dance that she invited her to study in the Dance Academy in India and paid for her studies. Lena Lakshmi believes that Indian dance is the union of music, dance and yoga. Foreign dances performed not worse than our Indians, noticed one festival guest -in fact, even better -they seem to have more dedication”.

Apart from Lena`s amazing performances I have seen several other non-Indian dancers (I wrote about Siddhi Bhasale here) of a high artistic standard. I used to think one has to be born Indian to be able to transfer all that deepness and sweetens of Indian art. However, the realm of spirituality seem to have no borders! The experience one gets through yoga allows to go beyond any cultural and religions differences and bring people together in admiration for the Creation, for the life itself. That is, I believe is the true meaning of arts.

LOVE, axinia

 P.S Another post on it (in Russian) here.


26 Responses to “Can foreigners perform Indian arts better than Indians?”

  1. […] ли я мог оценить вибрации танца по достоинству… Интересная статья об этом на […]

  2. axinia Says:

    A note for my beloved Indian readers: Although the post title may seem a bit provocative I hope you got me right. It is not that I think foreigners understand Indian Arts better… I have a feeling that for non-Indian who are learn Indian culture and religion, all that is more holy and precious. May be they can value it better BECAUSE they did not grow up in that special atmosthere, on that homeland of spirituality…

    I got many comments from Indian readeres on various posts confirming that when foreigners get closer to Indian heritage, they take it more seriously that the locals…Which works probably the same when when Indians come to the West (although there is not much spiritual attraction here,yet much materialism to get attracted to 🙂

  3. Swaps Says:

    Not at all. No offense taken 🙂

    I doubt there is anything in our day-to-day live that should prepare an aspirant for art. Besides it is better, as a foreigner would, to start with a clean slate.

    Personally, I feel (I stress the word ‘feel’) a little uncomfortable when I see a foreigner perform an Indian dance form. (I am okay with instruments, though.) I would feel the same way if my mother appeared in a kimono 🙂

    I think the problem is dance is very sensual and sensuality is strongest in your own girls 🙂
    (Let me quickly add that Russian or Ukrainian women are just SUPERB! None can dispute that)

  4. radha Says:

    yes they can when they work this art thru the spirit. there are indians who dance and transmit zero vibrations with their movements. it is not a matter of nationality but of depth and understanding of what u ar eduing while u are performing. also one should be detached while dancing (in the case of dance here) and offer his/her dance to the divinity within. dance comes from god, music too. (i posted recently about bharatnatyam for example either in Boundless Inspirations and in nirmala magazine). very nice this post, very interesting for me, Smiles&Luv r.

  5. axinia Says:


    Indian dress /sari is so beautiful that it suits every women of any race (I have seen that many a times!) In fact its a pity that we can not wear it in Europe…:(

    I have an article on this Indian Dress topic, may be you will be interested:


    I wonder what you would say when when you would see me in sari 🙂

  6. Nice post, Axinia!

    I don’t know too much about the arts(not just Indian arts, but Western arts as well), so I cannot answer the question. But I do appreciate the arts, whichever part of the world they originate from!

    What I do know is that it is not easy at all to learn Indian arts. It requires serious effort and dedication. I am very happy to see foreigners(not just Westerners) learn the art forms of India.

    Yes, the sari is a very beautiful and graceful dress but I guess it would be shockingly impractical and uncomfortable for the wearer. I’m quite delighted to see that Indian women wear the sari only on special occasions nowadays. I don’t quite understand why they held on to the sari for so long 😕 I agree that the sari suits any woman. I have seen quite a few Western women in silk saris here.

    I am sure you would look stunning in a sari 🙂

  7. Swaps Says:

    Of course Axinia, you will look good 🙂
    More over, you understand a saree (it is evident from your well-articulated article on saree. I am urging my lady friends to read it). It is important a wearer understands this simple dress.

    But I must say wearing saree is very cumbersome for working women who have to commute in crowded buses or drive a two-wheeler.

    But Indian women manage, GOD! they even work at construction sites in a saree! But the high point is when they fight. They have gone to battle fields on horseback!! You must read their exploits.

  8. axinia Says:

    INDIAN WOMEN ARE GREAT! I adore them a lot and hope one day to be able to write an article on them same as on Russian women…

    I guess you have never tried to wear a sari 🙂 I guess if it would have been “shokingly unpractical” as you say, it would not have been that popular since till now (btw in Maharastra I have seen almost every Indian lady wearing a sari, only very few otehr cloths).

    If I would move to India, I would wear only saries! They are gorigous… Have you read my article on sari? I guess you have not 🙂

  9. I will post a comment there as well, Axinia, but you are correct, I have never tried to wear a sari 🙂

    Saris are gorgeous all right, but I do get the feeling that women are restricting the tasks that they can perform by wearing a sari. It would be very, very difficult to ride a motorcycle or jump over an obstacle, for instance. The reason why they are so popular till now is because women were forced to wear saris. Only now are Indian women realising that they were restricting themselves by wearing a sari and are giving it up in favour of more comfortable dresses. I am happy that they are doing it atleast now 🙂

  10. axinia Says:

    Raj,my dear,
    a true woman should not ride a motorcycle (a motoroller is much better in that case), neither should she jump over an obstacle – there should be a true man removing all obstacles for her. What say? 🙂
    But Serously, for a work may be one can wear a salwar-kameez, which is still much better than what I have to wear for my work (high heels and a bussines suite with a knee-length skirt)…

    Sari is the best dress expressing the dignity of a woman and I dream about wearing a sari all my life!

  11. Women always want to have the last word 😦

    I guess you are referring to scooters and step-through mopeds by the word motorollers. Women riding those vehicles is a very common sight in India. But why should women not ride motorcycles? I am quite happy to see women riding motorcycles in my city. There are two or three women who are motorcycle racers as well. Such a sight would have been unimaginable just about a decade ago!

    // neither should she jump over an obstacle – there should be a true man removing all obstacles for her // 😐

    Salwars and business suits and knee-length skirts are just fine. I don’t have a problem with high heels as such. I hate uneven high heels – I don’t understand why women would even want to wear such horrible things. My mother likes wearing them and though it is causing discomfort and knee pain to her, she does not want to throw them away 😦

    // Sari is the best dress expressing the dignity of a woman //

    Women look dignified because they are women, Axinia, so I don’t understand why they should express their dignity by wearing a sari 😕

  12. axinia Says:

    Raj, you try to rebel against everything Indian it seems to me 🙂
    Wich I can understand very well! – I was doing same in Russia.

    Why dont you come over to the West and see what is happening here? May be you will see things in different light. I am pretty sure you will.

  13. I love my country and my people too much to consider living in the West, Axinia 😐 But I guess you are correct, the grass always seems to be greener on the other side. It is just that I want to get rid of several ridiculously archaic, stupid and useless practices in my country. There is hope for India only if it Westernises itself!

  14. axinia Says:

    Raj, you are right, India is full of all possible conditionins and ritualism, I know (although same story everywhere, onle the conditionins differ! 🙂

    I wonder what do you mean under “westernisation”?

  15. Axinia, by Westernisation, I definitely do not mean “free market capitalism” of the U.S.A. Social democracy of the E.U. is a perfect model for India as far as the economy goes.

    The really sad thing about most Indians is that they want to combine the worst practices of the West(like “free market capitalism”) and the worst Indian practices(like feudalism, oppression of women and total disregard for Human Rights). This is leading to all the problems that India is facing today.

    I, on the other hand, would like to combine the best practices of the West(like Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Human Rights) with the best Indian practices(like true spiritualism). In India, it is always a battle between the progressive forces and forces of backwardness.

  16. axinia Says:

    Dear Raj, I see you a same dreamer as me 🙂
    Your modepel is wonderful and hopefully one day it will work out – and hopefully not only for India.

    However I strongly recommend you to move to live to EU, at least for some time – it would be a great experience for you to see how they live these principles of Liberty, Equality, Fratenity and Human Rights here 🙂

    Unfortunately this are just great words 😦 There is a lot of discrimination here as well, but of the other kind than in India. One has to experience it! To start with the foreiginers-hate, and so on…

  17. I understand what you mean, Axinia. Maybe if I live in the E.U. for a few months, I would find out about the xenophobia, Islamophobia and other phobias that the Europeans are well known for 🙂

    But we can all dream and hope for a better world . . . 🙂

  18. axinia Says:

    we can and we should! dreams have a habbit to come true 🙂

  19. leelajesus Says:

    Dear Axinia,
    the question you asked in the title remindes me an interesting story that my friend told me just few days ago. this time the happaning place is austria and it´s not about indian arts but austrian traditonal folk songs.

    you are living in austria and you know how difficult austrian dialects can be.
    so imagine this: you are sitting in a theater in an audiance, the courtains are closed, behind is a choir singing some austrian folk song in a deep, horribly difficult dialect. the song is over, the courtain goes up and the austrian public gets completly stunned. Every and each mumber of the choir is Africain!

    But the way they sang was just so austrian! my friend told me that the people were so perplex that they could not speak about it afterward and covered this performence with silence.

    never the less I think it´s a genious idea and a very good way to work out conditionings.

  20. yogawien Says:

    a g´reat story, Leela, thanks a lot!

    Conditionings is a hard thing to get rid of, but it brings all of us forward 🙂

  21. Swaps Says:

    Axinia, have you seen Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings. Indian ideal of femininity and beauty are best captured in his works. Here are a few specimens. Please check them.


    (I wonder if Vienna still remembers him. He won first prize in Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873.)

  22. axinia Says:

    Swaps, I have seen some of his paintings, especially I love the girl with the swan 🙂
    I am not sure that Vienna still remembers him, at least not the masses…there is so much of (austrian) art being promoted here…actually we are quite overwehlmed with the culture here…sometimemes is just too much..

  23. Angela Says:

    yoga meditation music…

    The Internet is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. R. The World Wide Web is…

  24. […] Can foreigners perform Indian arts better than Indians?The other day I read in the RIAN Russian news about the Indian Dance Festival that has taken place in New Delhi this week: 6 artists from Japan, USA, France, Ukraine, South Corea and Croatia performed before Indian public their art of … […]

  25. […] can find links here: Kuchipudi (Lakshmi Lena) About Ballet and Kuchipudi Dance Share and […]

  26. contoveros Says:

    If you love the art form, the art will form around you.

    I’ve seen some Irishmen do a great Greek Snake Dance.

    thanks for the insight,

    michael j

    Conshohocken, PA USA

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