Karen Watts

I am a Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, based in Edinburgh. I trained under Priya Shrikumar and Jayan Kumar from 2003 to 2018, and then under Viraja Mandhre (based in Chennai), from 2019 onwards. I was a company dancer, dance instructor, and dance development officer with Dance Ihayami from 2007 to 2018, and in 2019, I co-founded Theiya Arts, a south Asian arts organisation and charity. The focus of Theiya Arts is on nurturing young dancers, and bringing south Asian classical dance into different communities in Scotland. I am particularly interested in exploring how classical dance can inspire creativity and artistic aspiration in people of all ages and abilities. My community engagement work primarily focuses on engaging with people with additional support needs, and I have a 17 year track record of designing, and implementing community dance outreach programmes.

Theiya Arts supported the formation of a dance collective of south Asian dance artists, who have a similar vision in terms of creativity, education and community engagement. As part of Theiya Arts Dance Collective, I have choreographed and performed as part of 'Still I Rise' (collaboration with Anahata Band and Glasgow Mela), 'The Story I See' (collaboration with the Centre for Biosciences, Self and Society), The Ticking Clock (a south Asian dance production about climate change), and Maiden Mother Whore (an interactive installation on themes including of gendered identities, motherhood mandate, reproductive justice and sexuality)

Previous, a company dancer with Dance Ihayami, I have been part of many Indian classical dance productions, which toured throughout Scotland, between 2008 and 2017. Productions included 'Silent Space' (collaboration with musician Marion Kenny), 'Blue Lotus' (collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and composer Ash Madni), and 'Seeing Differently' (collaboration with filmmaker Krish Shrikumar).