Padma Chebrolu—a dancer, teaching artist, and the artistic director of the Cultural Centre of India in Cincinnati—has been awarded the 2021 Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award for Performing Arts from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). Ohio Heritage Fellowships are awarded in recognition of the significant impact an individual or group has had on the people and communities of the state through their advancement and preservation of the folk or traditional arts. The $5,000 award is given in one of three categories: Performing Arts, Material Culture, or Community Leadership. Chebrolu grew up in the small town of Gunter in India, where, at the age of 3, she began learning dance. Encouraged by her father, who greatly appreciated the tradition and heritage of the performing arts of India, Chebrolu pursued dance, music, theatre, and poetry while taking an active role in school events, television, radio, and movies. Chebrolu is the first woman in her family to pursue higher education and ongoing training as well as teaching and performance in the arts. “Art is eternal and being an artist is a gift from divine,” Chebrolu said of her connection to dance. “It is something you must share with others. The more you share, the more you enrich and grow as an artist. The more time and passion you put into the art, the more it gives back joy and fulfillment. Ancestral dance tradition is about awakening and bringing out the inner artist to enrich and evoke the human emotion all around.” After completing her Bharata Natyam Arangetram (graduation) recital at the age of 11, Chebrolu studied with several gurus and mastered Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Andhra Natyam, Mohini Attam, and other classical dance styles. She attended two colleges: one for dance—the Sri Thyagaraja Government College of Music & Dance, where she received a post-graduate diploma with honors in Bharata Natyam Dance—and one for academics—Osmania University in Hyderabad, India. Chebrolu’s teaching career started when she was a teenager teaching dance to neighborhood children at the request of their families. She continues this passion for sharing her art as artistic director of the Cultural Centre of India, a dance company and studio in Cincinnati where she has taught for more than 25 years. As part of her practice as an instructor, Chebrolu incorporates an expansive knowledge of the music and costuming traditions of the art form, weaving a complete understanding of the heritage and tradition of classical Indian dances. Chebrolu said she believes that being an artist is a privilege and a great responsibility, as one must maintain authenticity and high standards of the art form while sharing it with diverse groups of people through performing and teaching. She added that receiving the Ohio Heritage Fellowship award has inspired her to further her teaching outreach. “This recognition renews and strengthens my deep commitment to continue to present the majestic heritage dance art form to the vibrant Ohio community and create exceptional next-generational regional artists,” Chebrolu said. “My deepest gratitude to my parents, gurus, supporters, students, family, and friends for being part of this wonderful artistic journey.” OAC Executive Director Donna Collins congratulated Chebrolu on receiving the Heritage Fellowship and praised her dedication to sharing her expertise with thousands of students over the years. “Padma is an exceptional artist, arts educator, and community leader whose life’s work has been astounding,” she said. “As an internationally renowned leader in her field, Padma has had a tremendous impact on communities across the globe. Her artistry showcases the beautiful tradition of Indian dance, and her dedication as an educator ensures that new generations have the opportunity to learn from a true master of the art form.” To learn more about the Ohio Heritage Fellowship program and Ohio folk and traditional arts, visit folkarts.ohioartscouncil.org . ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov . ### Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist Featured photo: Padma Chebrolu was awarded a 2021 Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award for Performing Arts. Photo courtesy of Padma Chebrolu.