Unique Forms of Storytelling

Sixteen year old Sandiya Sajan uses her passions of dance and writing to tell stories with a deeper meaning.

Dance is a way where people can tell stories and express themselves through a different form apart from speaking. Dancers can tell stories of their lives or of different cultures and time periods of history. Sandiya Sajan, a rising junior at Carmel High School, has spent most of her life expressing herself through dance. She has been doing a form of traditional Indian dance, Bharatanatyam, since she was three years old and another style, Mohiniattam since she was 12.

“My mom wanted me to be able to connect with my culture a lot more, with my first few years being here [United States] if we ever came back here I would have that connection with the culture [from India],” said Sajan.

The first few years of Sajan’s life were spent in the United States, later moving to India from the ages of five to ten. Her mother wanted her to be able to connect with her culture when they returned to the United States and have a deeper appreciation for the culture they came from. At first, Sajan was not incredibly interested in dancing and felt like she was only there because her mother wanted her to be. Over time, she built a close family relationship with other dancers and her teacher, as well as finding a deep love for being on stage and wanted to continue learning.

“The origins come from Hindu traditions and women who would dance to praise the gods. You are telling a story with facial expressions and your hands to convey different things,” said Sajan.

The story is told through the music and the way the dancers move their bodies. To Sajan, because she is not Hindu, it is a way for her to learn about the culture and gain a new experience that she might not have had if she had not started dancing.

Dance is not the only creative outlet in Sajan’s life as she also loves to write. Her favorite type of writing is script writing because she loves the way that dialogue can tell a story with a visual rather than an explained description of a place or setting. She found her love for script writing after a project in her sophomore English class focused around adapting a shakespearean play into a modern setting. Sajan took over the writing process of the script and fell in love with the way a person can put mental pictures and scenes onto paper.

Both of Sajan’s storytelling forms are essential parts of her overall personality. This storytelling not only comes in two unique forms but helps her with different aspects of her life. To Sajan, storytelling is a way for her to express herself and show her talents in different forms.

Showing the hand symbol for lotus, Sandiya Sajan, 16, from Carmel High School shows one of the many hand symbols she uses in her dancing. “I am a really anxious person but when I am out there on stage it feels so right being there,” said Sajan. Photo by Olivia Allen.