+
Pop Culture

Dancer merges 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' elements with traditional Indian dance and it's amazing

The two work together so well.

avatar dance tiktok
TikTok

Her entire channel is amazing.

Bharatanatyam is the oldest form of traditional Indian dance, dating back thousands of years. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a beloved animated series from the mid 2000s. A dancer merged the two together and it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Naomi Namboodiripad has trained for several years in a variety of styles, including Bharatanatyam. Originally only performed by solo female temple dancers as a sacred devotion, this traditional form is dramatic, expressive and meant to tell a story—using rhythmic movements, pantomiming or a combination of both.

These aspects lend themselves well to recreating the iconic opening sequence to “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which uses different martial arts techniques symbolizing the four fictional elemental tribes of earth, water, air and fire.

Here’s a refresher of what that looks like. I bet you can’t just watch it once.

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" Theme Song (HQ) | Episode Opening Credits | Nick Animationwww.youtube.com

Namboodiripad did her own version of this intro, using elements of traditional Indian dance, and created something truly spectacular.


Everything from Namboodiripad’s movement, to gorgeous wardrobe changes, to clever camera angles was absolutely brilliant—and people took notice.

Here are just a few gems from the literal thousands of loving comments:

“I'm still not over how beautiful the outfits are and how they compliment the movements.”

“THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL, MY INNER CHILD WAS SO HAPPY TO SEE THIS 💚😌”

“This gave me chills lol”

@naomi.nambo Replying to @Raahi @Naomi Namboodiripad here is an extended version! #dance#avatar#atla#elements#air#water#earth#fire#bharatanatyam#mohiniyattam#kuchipudi#trending#indian#southasian#desi#acting#culture#performance#costume#makeup#jewelry♬ Avatar the Last Airbender - juanito

“Earth and water are Bharatanatyam, air is Mohiniyattam, and fire is Kuchipudi,” Namboodiripad explained, noting the different styles used for each element in the comments section.

Ironically, Bharatanatyam is also known as a “fire dance” but was not used to portray fire in the video. Its focus on clear lines makes it a great fit for earth and water. Namboodiripad told Upworthy that both the "groundedness" and "versatility" made it a good fit for the two elements.

Mohiniyattam, on the other hand, is characterized by graceful, circular movements, or "relaxed," as Namboodiripad puts it—making it perfect to embody the light, flowing essence of air.

Kuchipudi might have been tied to the earth element when it originated, but those hand moves Namboodiripad used simply scream “fire.” In a bold, cool way, mind you. Not a “there’s an emergency” kind of way. Guess that's why Namboodiripad says there's a "bright but dangerous quality" to the form.

Namboodiripad shared with Upworthy that "Avatar" and traditional Indian dance might have more connecting ties than one might initially think. "I noticed that growing up Indian in a western country that most cartoons did not have the element of diversity and lacked explorations of different cultures and values. However, 'Avatar' broke that cycle, and I found that I not only enjoyed the immense world building and engaging plot, but the cultural and spiritual elements as well.

"'Avatar' has many ideas of Hinduism—the name itself originates from Hinduism—and Indian classical dance is rooted in Hindu mythology as well," she continued. "Considering the connections between the two pieces of art, I decided that I wanted to combine 'Avatar' and Indian classical dance to provide the South Asian representation that was missing from the show and to reach the audience that 'Avatar' has, but most importantly, express storytelling and showcase my culture through a multimedia platform with dance, music, and film."

Although Namboodiripad’s Indian-styled Avatar dance is a fan favorite, she has all kinds of videos showcasing how delightful expressive traditional Indian dances are.

Here’s one where she dances as different animals. Mouse is kind of my fave.

@naomi.nambo Replying to @idontcareanymore1111222 some animals, like the tiger, have the same mudra (hand gesture) as lion - so it depends on context #dance#animals#acting#indian#desi#fyp#turtle#culture#emotion#story♬ Mohiniyattam - Hridya Chintan

Animals play a large role in Hindu mythology and were often given the status of gods or goddesses. According to an article in The Indian Express, “many postures in Indian classical dance are based on those of animals.”

Here’s another one where Namboodiripad does an acting challenge—portraying different emotions using only facial expressions.

@naomi.nambo Reply to @fresh_mint_tea trying this challenge using Navarasas and Mudras (facial emotions and hand gestures from Indian classical dance) #trending#actingchallenge#cake#dance#melaniemartinez#bharatanatyam#kuchipudi#mohiniyattam#indian#desi#culture#fyp♬ Cake - Spedupluvr

You can see how exaggerated each navarasa (or mood) is on her face, so that every mood can clearly be conveyed, even from a distance.

Of course, one of her most popular videos (with more than 1.6 millions views) is simply showing off her performance jewelry. Because it’s awesome.

@naomi.nambo Replying to @niyah.fr full performance look! #dance#mohiniyattam#performance#makeup#jewelry#outfit#costume#flowers#indian#desi#southasian#fyp#trending#culture♬ original sound - Naomi Namboodiripad

Considering how much of the face and hands are used in traditional Indian dances, it makes sense that most of the bedazzling would go there. Plus anklets with bells on them for next-level stomping.

Here's another fun one, featuring death:

@naomi.nambo This was highly requested, so here are some ways to show death 💀 #dance#indian#desi#southasian#bharatanatyam#kuchipudi#mohiniyattam#culture♬ Indian music - Hollywood Labo

Whether Namboodiripad gives us straight-up traditional dances or something with a modern spin, it’s incredible to see. This is the beauty of creative expression … there’s always so much to be inspired by.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less