Incredible Choreography Combines Traditional Indian Dance With the Swagger of Hip Hop

Hybrid Bharatham Dance

Dance is a way to showcase culture. For choreographer and dancer Usha Jey, it’s also a way to show love and respect. Trained in the Indian classical dance of Bharatnatyam, she uses elements of the traditional technique and pairs it with the hip-hop style. The result is an electrifying combination in which the precise movement of Bharatnatyam seamlessly blends into the swagger of hip-hop, all set to contemporary rap songs.

Jey calls this fusion #HybridBharatham, and she’s produced five different dances (filmed as episodes) so far. Episode five, which features the song “Uproar” by Lil Wayne featuring  Swizz Beatz, has gone viral. “My aim is to keep the essence of each dance,” she says of the video and series, “and create something that does justice to who I am.”

Jey also uses the lyrics of the music to inform the dance and allow her to express feelings towards global issues of oppression. Episode four, featuring the song “One Hundred Thousand Flowers” by Shan Vincent de Paul, features choreography commenting on the civil war between separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan government.

“Expressing the anger, frustration, and sadness I accumulated in me into this piece that I dedicate to the one hundred thousand Tamils who lost their lives because of the Tamil Genocide committed by the Sri Lankan government,” Jey writes, “that is still not recognized as a genocide by the United Nations. Do you see the situation Tamils are still facing today in Sri Lanka? When will the world stop ignoring us?”

Scroll down to see more episodes of #HybridBharatham.

Choreographer and dancer Usha Jey is trained in the Indian classical dance of Bharatnatyam.

Hybrid Bharatham Dance

She uses elements of the traditional technique and pairs it with the hip-hop style.

The combination is mesmerizing to watch. She's choreographed five dances so far.

Usha Jey: Instagram | YouTube

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Usha Jey.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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