Thursday June 13, 2024
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Seven Masters Earn Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants

Photo: Lakshmi Sriraman of Lexington was one of seven recipients of a Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant. Sriraman teaches the traditional Indian dance style Bharatanatyam.

Seven Kentucky master artists have been awarded Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grants from the Kentucky Arts Council.

The Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant provides $3,000 to a Kentucky master folk or traditional artist to teach skills, practices and culture to a less experienced artist from the same community during the course of a year.

The seven recipients are folk or traditional artists who are considered masters within their community and who have identified an apprentice from the same community who has potential to become a master. Both master and apprentice must be Kentucky residents.

Among the recipients of the grant was Lakshmi Sriraman, artistic director of the Shree School of Dance in Lexington. Sriraman is an accomplished performer, teacher and choreographer of Bharatanatyam, one of the oldest classical dance forms of India, dating back to 1000 B.C. The dance style is known for its rhythmic and ornate footwork along with narrative storytelling. Sriraman will teach apprentice Vasundhara Parameswaran, also of Lexington.

The grant will not only allow Sriraman to teach her apprentice about Bharatanatyam, but will prepare Parameswaran to become a teacher herself.

“Other than me, there is no other teacher of this dance style in central Kentucky, so I’m happy to train my student and bring her to a level where she can teach, do workshops and take this tradition forward,” Sriraman said. “It gives me great pleasure to know it will live on.

“This is a shot in the arm,” Sriraman added. “The fact that Kentucky recognizes what we do as something worthy to invest in gives us more joy and confidence in what we’re doing.”

In addition to the $3,000 grant from the arts council, Sriraman received a $1,000 anonymous donation from a member of the Lexington-based International “We Serve” Foundation.

The masters and apprentices who will receive funding include:

  • Cynthia Sue Massek (Willisburg), who will teach Appalachian women’s music to Melody Youngblood (Berea);
  • Lakshmi Sriraman (Lexington), who will teach Bharatanatyam (Indian dance style) to Vasundhara Parameswaran (Lexington);
  • Justin Bonar-Bridges (Ft. Thomas), who will teach traditional Irish music and Clare style fiddling to Emmanuel Gray (Covington);
  • Hong Shao (Nicholasville), who will teach pipa (traditional Chinese stringed instrument) to Leah Werking (Carlisle);
  • Douglas Naselroad (Winchester), who will teach guitar making to Kris Patrick (Mousie);
  • Gary Cornett (Louisville), who will teach old time Kentucky fiddling and luthiery to Walter Lay (Louisville); and
  • John Harrod (Owenton), who will teach eastern Kentucky old time fiddle tunes and style to James Webb (Frankfort).

Visit the Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant page of the arts council’s website for more information or contact Mark Brown, arts council folk and traditional arts director, at or 502-892-3115.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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