Vyjayanthi Iyer - From Showbiz to Tulip City

by Administrator9. January 2015 00:00




Tell us about your days in India. Schooling, First Job

 I am from Mumbai and studied in a school where I participated in dance and music events from a very early age, for events like teacher’s day, Independence Day, annual gatherings, etc.


Hmm my first job, I always wanted to be independent, so I started working when I was 18, while doing my college. I worked part-time as a counsellor with a computer institute in Mumbai, and I can never forget this job, the amazing feeling of earning while studying J


How are you introduced to showbiz?


After my college days I got quite interested in modeling, but it took me a few years to get started. I had to get a good portfolio done before I reached out to the ad agencies and production houses, so I thought of reaching out to the best. I searched for the contact details of ace photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha, who had worked with famous film actresses for several decades, and was delighted to find him so kind and approachable. We connected instantly and I got my first portfolio shot. After that, there was no looking back.



Do you remember the 1st moment you faced camera?

 I always loved being in front of the camera. However, professionally, the first break I got was for a print/hoarding ad for Bajaj kesh kalp from the advertising agency Lowe Lintas formerly called as Lintas. I couldn’t stop talking about this assignment. The first TV commercial that I did was for Rainbow milk (UAE), which was also a wonderful experience.


Tel us about some of the reputed brands you worked with?


I was quite lucky to work with reputed agencies, directors and photographers for these brands:


Toyota Innova was a great experience, working with Aamir Khan and Ashutosh Gowarikar. Onida, Microwave, Saffola, McDonalds, ING Vysya, Big Bazaar, Good Knight, Surf Excel, Worldspace Radio, Horlicks, Pillsbury, Titan Eye care, Shyamrao Vithal bank, Karnataka Bank, Dabur Vatika Hair oil, are some of the other ads that I did.







Was there any unforgettable experience?


There were many such experiences, but one that I will always cherish forever is the time I had with (late) Gautam Rajadhyaksha while doing the portfolio shoot. He made me feel very special, and in the midst of a shot, he used to call out to the makeup dada in Marathi, “arre bagh ekdum nutan tai disthe apli vyjayanthi” (Look, Vyjayanthi resembles Nutan so much). Such encouragement got the best out of me, and I will always be grateful to Gautamji for giving me the boost I needed to get started in my modeling career.


How about the Bollywood experience?


I was keen on doing only modelling and had done many ads already. Acting was something I wandered into quite naturally. I did a few TV serials, short films, movies for film festival and documentaries.



 Serial Rooh



One day I received a call to give an audition for a role for the movie “Johnny Gaddar” directed by Sriram Raghavan. I was very excited as it was a mainstream Bollywood movie, and thrilled when I got selected for the role. That was one hell of an experience for me, to work with an amazing of creative people.



From the busy world of showbiz, how did you land in the Tulip city?


It’s a long story, but to put it briefly, my husband travelled a lot to the US and UK for his work. He came to Amsterdam for few months for his work and fell in love with this city. He called me once from Amsterdam, told me how cozy and beautiful this city was, and that it would be wonderful for us to live here for some time. I came over for a few months, and decided to stay back for a longer period. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave everything behind and come to a new country/city where I had to start over, however the journey has been an adventure.




Are you still doing modelling work in Amsterdam?


Yes I do, and have worked with several brands like Philips and Hoya.


You done the 1st Bollywood flash mob in Amsterdam , tell us about the experience and the response from the crowd?


It’s already 8 years since I landed in this beautiful city and over 4 years since I have been teaching Bollywood dance. I had been thinking about the flash mob for quite some time, and I knew no one had done a Bollywood dance style flash mob in Amsterdam, at the Dam square. I brought together an amazing group of my dance students and told them about the flash mob idea. They were very excited, and even more when I told them about the occasion – the Indian Independence Day.



 Navras Flash Mob Amsterdam and Performances 

Flash mob at Valencia , Spain 

The weather was unpredictable that day, and it was expected to rain around the time we were to start the flash mob. I was checking the weather forecast every 15 – 30 minutes, hoping that the rain would stay away. And it did. One of the comments that we got from the lovely crowd who were cheering, clapping and watching the flash mob said:  “Even the gods wanted to see you all dance, the sun is shining only for you”. We could see the crowd’s excitement, curious tourists stopping by to watch, few people dancing as well, taking pictures and videos. The funny thing was the grim reaper (guy with the skeleton mask on the dam square) who was standing right opposite to me, was dancing as wellJ




I can now proudly say that my amazing team of dancers/students and I were the first to make Dam Square dance to the tune of Bollywood music. It is a huge sense of achievement.


Is there any plan to return to showbiz? Did you get calls from Bombay still?


I think I am still very much in it, but in a different country, and using a different creative medium. I am still in touch with lot of people from the industry and you never know what life has in store for you.


Vyjayanthi is currently running her Bollywood dance school in Amsterdam , Navras.
 started NAVRAS- 9 emotions 5 years ago.  In the last 5 years, her passion for dance has expanded into conducting workshops for smaller & bigger groups and companies, fitness classes (Bollyzumba) and for special occasions like bachelor parties etc.


Vyjayanthi tells ,


"Bollywood dancing is lively, it is fun, exciting and the one thing I have never failed to notice is the smile it brings to the faces of people who participate in my workshops. I look forward to taking this endeavour further to exchanging knowledge about Indian culture and take Bollywood dance moves to more people in the Netherlands and beyond."




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Veronica Tjerned och Den asiatiska dansakademin

by Administrator16. October 2013 16:11

What is this burning desire… ?
What is this yearning, beating inside of me?
Why me, being born here, constantly longing to go there… To find its gone.
( Ur, Jaga en dröm © Veronica Tjerned 2010)

In my early teenage, I experienced a vision during one summer holiday. I realised I wanted to learn dance and to use my body to express a story. The same autumn I investigated all dance schools and found a small advertisement for Indian classical dance. It was exactly what I wanted, expressive, rhythmic and story telling.

That was my starting point and after that followed a long rocky path where I not only tried different classical dance styles from South India, but I also tried to tame my body into the western dance system. Being a Swede and being a western girl, I should stick to my roots! But my body doesn't correspond well to Western dance, and it just felt like simple make up, while the Indian opened up something deeper inside of me… a craving and a need, something bigger than life. So started my quest that made me sacrifice a good career, money and family.

In 1999 I received a scholarship to study in the UK and there I got in touch with kathak dance, the classical dance form from Nothern India… it was like coming home. Since then kathak has been the beat of my blood stream. And finally in 2013 I received an ICCR scholarship to learn kathak for a longer time span in India. My teenage dream finally fullfilled!

For three years I studied kathak at Bharatya Vidya Bhavan in London 1999 - 2002. It was not my plan to move back to Sweden, it just happened and in 2003 we organised our first Indian classical dance and music event at Skulpturens hus / Vinterviken, with guest musicians and dancers from UK/ India. That event was the starting point for our organisation, Den asiatiska dansakademin, which is celebrating its ten years of existance in 2013/2014. Its called academy as our aim is to invite top class artists and musicians with an academic background to enhance and develop the general knowledge of Indian classical dance and music in Sweden. Every year since then, we have arranged camps for intensive training where students can receive talim in North Indian classical dance and music. Also, dance projects have been organised and performances with guest artists arranged. We also try to promote artists living in Sweden and to nourish the second generation of kathak dancers and hindustani musicians.

Sometimes I wish the students could understand how fortunate they are to receive everything they need here. They don't need to leave Sweden to learn, as I have done, and honestly every step learnt I have spent almost one year to get. 


I will spend most of the academic year 2013/14 in India and some of my senior students will run my classes. It makes me very happy to know that there has been a small imprint of all the hard work I have done during my ten years in Sweden trying to create a space and place for kathak. 

What are the future plans for DADA ?

The goal is to develop DADA further, to arrange more camps and invite more dancers and artists as well as boost our younger generation. To foster a knowledge that Indian classical dance is an artistic expression and when you can master it, you can express all the sentiments of human nature.
We have great plans on how to celebrate DADA's 10th year anniversary and I will let you know more about that in the beginning of next year. So far, I am happy to know that my dance classes are going to start on Sundays at Sensus, Medborgarplatsen, Stockholm.

How are you gonna spend your time in India this year and next year

My present life in India contains studies in kathak, tabla and hindustani singing. Its such a fantastic experience to feel I have time, with no stress; just me, my Gurus and to learn. And what ever I will learn, I will come back and share with you in Sweden… 

India has the oldest and greatest dance tradition in the world. Please don't let it down. In the UK some of the biggest cultural exports in recent times have been British born with South Asian origin. Let us help the young generation here to develop their artistic sense and knowledge and not to dilute it into some multicultural, kitsch, colourful and non complicated entertainment at city festivals. It deserves the same respect as our stage art forms being presented on stage in Stockholm. Good art is always good art and should never be simplified; it should be respected and given space. 

Brief history of Veronica Tjerned and Den asiatiska dansakademin.


Project run by DADA and Veronica Tjerned:

  • TAAL – Två sidor av mig. 2008. Kathak dance and music project for young kathak dancers living in Sweden. Music composed by Debasish Mukherjee, Kolkata.
  •  I min del av stan, 2009. Kathak dance and music project for young kathak dancers living in Sweden. Music composed by Debasish Mukherjee, Kolkata.
    Both projects dealt with identity, to be born in Sweden with Asian origin. Can I become a kathak dancer without having to leave Sweden? Can I listen to hindustani music and Hip hop?
  • Siden vägen – sidentes väg 2009. A poetic story based on silk and emotions created by silk. Music composed by Debasish Mukherjee, Kolkata.
  • Dance production for children. Min storasyster Anarkali. ( this production was selected by Stockholms länslandsting, för Kultur i vården för barn.
  • Solo performances with live music. Debasish Mukherjee on tabla.
    Stockholm water price, Blå hallen, Stadshuset.
  • Vox Pacis. Stallet. Stockholm sangeet conferens. Oceanen, Zebra dans m fl.
    Soloperformances to recorded music.
    Nybrokajen 11, Musiker utan gränser.
  • Stockholms kulturfestival. Brokiga Bengalen. Internationella steppfestivalen/ Södra teatern. Zebra dans.
  • Veronica gives workshops and lecture demonstrations all over Sweden and Europe and has develop a unique style to teach indian dance and culture to younger children.


Guest artists

Musicians associated to DADA.
Debasish Mukherjee, tabla. 

Kathak dancers that have been connected to DADA.
Hanna Mannila, Quincy Charles, Nikki Grainger, Prasant Shah, Lajja Sambnath, Natalia Ivanova, Sushmita Ghosh, Sujata Bannerjee and Mitul Sengupta.


Veronica is educated, danspedagog, at Dans och Cirkus högskolan i barndans, pilates och kleinteknik.
Skapande dans steg 1, 2 och 3 på Stockholms musik pedagogiska institut.
Aerobics instruktör S.A.F.E
Balett akademin yrkesförberedande. Kulturamas danslinje, Härnösands folkhögskola och Commediantlinjen.
Bharatia Vidya Bhavan. London.
She has been connected to Hari Mohan Surabitan institute in Kolkata between 2007 – 2013 and is an ICCR scholarship student at Ballygunge Rhythmosaic school of dance institute 2013/14. 


Veronica Tjerned






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by Administrator6. September 2013 06:45


Dancer, Choreographer , Instructor in Indian dance



 Usha has made important contributions to contemporary dance as a choreographer of exceptional merit. Utilizing the resources of bharatanatyam, kalaripayattu (martial arts) and yoga, she has attempted to create a dance language informed with contemporary sensibility and vitality

Usha wanted to put her love for dance on a higher level and became a professional bharatanatyam dancer. She joined the famous dance institution Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts in Chennai, India. She continued the intense dance training for four years and graduated with the Academic Award in Bharatanatyam.


After receiving the graduation, Usha joined Chandralekha's Dance Group and travelled all around the world giving outstanding performances on many big stages, like in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Djakarta, Hamburg, Avignon and Rio de Janeiro. With her she have performed widely in India and abroad winning national and international recognition at various festivals and workshops.


Today Usha has given several performances in India and she is performing and teaching on a regular basis in Sweden. She established Saraswathy Kala Kendra Dance Company in 2002 and have performed and conducted workshops throughout Sweden and abroad. The company has arranged several big festivals for Indian dance and music in Sweden.



Usha  tells


My heart beat for classical Indian dance and I try to carve a space and platform for the classical Indian art in Sweden.

I regularly invite top artists to Sweden to perform and give workshops. 

My aim is to generate a general knowledge regarding the beautiful and spiritual classical Indian dance and music. 

My teaching is based on the Vaganova technique and methodology. At lower levels, I focus on teaching the body's position and understanding of the basic moves and steps. It is also important for the artistic expression of dance and that you should feel that you truly dance. At higher levels, we use and extend previous knowledge. I take a more liberal interpretation of the grounds in the form of choreographic elements and personal look at the classes.

Carina Ari dagen i Guldfoajén - 2011 , Fotograf: Michael Schmidt




  • Danshus,Stockholm
  • Raga Solo Kilen Kulturhuset, Stockholm


  • International Cultural Exchange Conference, Stockholm, Caina Ari Foundations
  • Kista Träff, Stockholm, Indian Association
  • Dance Competition, Wuppertal, Germany
  • Asian Festival, Stockholm


  • Hindu temple Association, Stockholm
  • Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
  • Indo-Swedish Association, Stockholm
  • Indo-International Bakai center
  • Fittja Auditorium, Tamlian Assosiation, Stockholm


  • Indo-International Bakai center,(Kulturhuset Stockholm)
  • Indo-Swedish Association, Stockholm
  • 1st Our school Annual Day celebration, ABF Auditorium,Huddinge
  • Kulturföreningen Lyktan, Stockholm



  • Kung i det gröna Hagelbyparken,Botkyrka
  • Internationella biblioteket,Stockholm
  • 2nd Our school Annual Day celebration,ABF Auditorium,Huddinge


  • Diwali festival, Hotell Hilton Slussen
  • Huddinge Asian festival, Huddinge ABF Auditorium
  • Husby festivalen,Husby centrum Stockholm
  • Multicultural day (BAZAAR),Skansen Stockholm
  • Stockholm culture festival 2008,Sergels torg Stockholm
  • Indisk kultur festival, Gamlastan
  • 3rd Our school Annual Day celebration,ABF Auditorium,Huddinge
  • Växhuset Västerås



  • A Reflection to inner landscapes — Usha Balasundaram, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • World dance festival, Kulturhuset Göteborg slussen
  • 4th Our school Annual Day celebration,ABF Auditorium,Huddinge.



  • "SARIRA" - indisk dans. Föreställningen börjar i den sydindiska klassiska dansen, Bharatnatyam och går vidare över modernare dansformer fram till dagens Bollywooddans.Koreografen och dansaren Usha Balasanduram.
  • Hindi day celebration,Etnografiska museet Stockholm.
  • 5th Our school Annual Day celebration,vårby hallen,Vårby.
  • Stockholms Läns Blasarsymfoniker och Bollywood - artister fran Indien,Nybrokajen,Stockholm.


  • Södra sidans femårsfest i stads-teaterns foajé
  • Carina Ari day of the Golden Foyer

Rehersal at konserthuset  ( Kulturförvaltningen, Kulturskolan Stockholm)              


Usha started cultural association "RASA Dance" which was doing many cultural activities in Stockholm and other cities.

One of the most successfull event is Asian festival which is been conducted for many years in Stockholm , by inviting various artist from India and other countries.

    Photo : Asian festival 2013




Usha Balasundaram
073 7262650

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