About Kay Poursine

I am a traditional Indian dance performer and educator in the family style (bani) of T. Balasaraswati. Here is my story.

My Story

Kay Poursine was born in New Orleans,  the daughter of Lillian and Augustine Poursine,  a descendant of a French Creole family with deep roots in the city’s history. Kay’s mother was a talented artist who studied with a painting master while the family was stationed in Japan after the war.  Lillian entered Kay and her sister Suzanne in ballet classes when they were 5 and 6. Traveling extensively with her family in Japan, Europe and the United States, Kay continued ballet studies until 17.

While studying ballet in Sendai Japan, she saw a performance of classical Thai dancing. Though mesmerized by the elaborate Thai hand gestures, she continued her training in ballet but was never satisfied until she saw some years later a concert of Bharata Natyam, the classical dance from South India.

Poursine was fortunate to find a supreme artist in this dance – T. Balasaraswati. She studied with the great dancer first at Mills College in Oakland, California, then in subsequent summer residencies on the West Coast and at Wesleyan University, CT. Balasaraswati invited her to Madras (Chennai) for private classes with her and her daughter Lakshmi in 1976-77, after which Kay received her M.A. from Wesleyan University where she also studied music with Balasaraswati’s brothers T. Viswanathan and T. Ranganathan. After receiving her Master’s degree, Poursine studied with Bala and Lakshmi in Chennai 1982-83 with the support of the first of three Smithsonian senior fellowships under the auspices of the American Institute for Indian Studies, University of Chicago. Poursine’s performances in India received rave reviews. After Balasaraswati’s death in 1984, Poursine continued her studies in this family bani (style) with Bala’s senior disciple Smriti Nandini Ramani in Chennai, recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar, and the ‘Natya Padmam’ from Brahma Gana Sabha. With the support of AIIS Senior Fellowships for study and performance in 1986-87 and 1990-91, Kay continued studies with Nandani Ramani in Chennai October 2016 and February 2019.

 Kay Poursine with Balasaraswati

Kay was a featured performer at the Dr. Raghavan Centre for Performing Arts Balasaraswati Centenary Celebration Valediction, Chennai February 9-10, 2019 (image)

Kay was a featured performer at the Lotus Music and Dance 30th Anniversary Gala T. Balasaraswati Centenary Celebration, New York    March 25, 2019 (image)

Kay was an honored guest and performer at the Thanjavur 10th Annual Dance Festival in honor of Thanjavur Sri K.P. Kittappa Pillai presided over by Srimanth, S. Babji Raja Bhonsle Chattrapathy (Senior Prince and hereditary trustee of the Mahadi Palace, Thanjavur. October 30, 2016  (image)

Performance for The Asian Indian Classical Music Society at University of Notre Dame March 2014 

Captions for Each Photo from Left to Right

 

Kay with the Senior Prince of Thanjavur and Nandini Ramani October 2016 at the Thanjavur Palace music hall

Backstage Priyamvada Shankar, Nandini Ramani, Kamala Cesar Buckner, Kay Poursine at the Lotus Music and Dance Balasaraswati Centennial Celebration March 2019

Backstage at the Balasaraswati Memorial Centennial Celebration February 2019 Kay Poursine, Leela Samson, Narthaki Nataraj, Rhadha, Srilatha Vinod, Srekala Bharath (Chennai)

Kay with Nandini Ramani’s daughter, Sushama Ranganathan, a well known soloist in the Balasaraswati bani, a featured performer for the gala, backstage at the Balasaraswati memorial Centennial Celebration, February 9 , 2019

Kay backstage with Sri Kittappa School students at the Thanjavur Palace music hall, relaxing!