For Krishna Soma, dance has always been a deep passion in her life. Yet, with many paths to go down, Soma ended up graduating from college with a degree in biology and a minor in biotechnology. She dove into her career in assay development for a biotech company. Along the way, she realized that dance, which had been a part of everyday life since she was five years old, was no longer a priority.
Now, at 27, Soma has rediscovered dance and is using it as a positive force for her personal pursuits and career. She’s also using the art form as a way to connect with other South Asian women who love it as much as she does and who may have experienced similar challenges.
“I feel like with Indian dance, you put so much time and effort and money into it growing up, then after college you get your nine-to-five and you have to choose what you want to do,” Soma said. “One of my purposes is to work with dancers who have put in the investment early on and want to keep up with it.”
The Power of Dance
For the past few years, Soma has earned the respect and attention of several thousand followers on her YouTube channel and Instagram page. She offers videos of dances she has choreographed and executed with other South Asian dancers in the San Francisco Bay area where she lives. She also offers tutorials for others who may be curious about Indian dance.
She is also establishing the Soma Dance Collective, which is different from a traditional dance studio that focuses on teaching children. The effort has several goals, but chief among them is “a focus on cultivating established dancers in their 20s and 30s to continue dancing,” she said.
Soma held workshops in late 2019, before the pandemic, where she hosted South Asian women who had danced in the past, but because of careers, parenting and other reasons, had veered from the practice. She taught the small groups routines and found a willing audience interested in reconnecting with dance. With the collective and the pandemic slowly subsiding, she is ready to teach these groups again and even find opportunities at events or festivals for participants to perform.
Through her collective, Soma and other dancers will also be available for event bookings. In addition, brides can also hire Soma Dance Collective to help with wedding dance choreography and the collective will continue to add more content like dance routines and tutorials to its YouTube and Instagram channels.
A Family’s Love of the Arts
Since the age of five, Soma danced daily and performed weekly. She was born in South India, but her parents moved to San Francisco when she was only a year old. Growing up in San Francisco, Soma never felt far from her roots.
“With such a strong South Asian population here, it wasn’t hard for my parents to make sure I was in touch with my culture,” she said, “and for me, a big part of that culture was dance.”
Her parents’ love of the arts fueled her drive for the lyrical storytelling found in the Bharatanatyam style. “The storytelling, the poetic nature of the dances is very important to me,” she emphasized. “Every movement, expression, gesture, it all means something.”
Soma’s passion for dance has also encouraged her to do well in her biotechnology career.
“I have definitely realized how it’s important to contribute with both your career and the arts,” she added. “It has motivated me to do well on both fronts.”
Check out more of SEEMA’s coverage of the dance world with Meenal Sajwan: Just the Way She Moves