She started dancing at the age of five and by the time she was a teenager, Bharatnatyam dancer, Shweta Prachande had already won the Balashree award and performed at the Commonwealth Festival in Malé. She moved to Chennai in 2005 to pursue dance as a full time profession and is now recognized as one of the leading young dancers in today’s generation. Having learnt Kalaripayattu and completed a diploma in Contemporary Dance Studies from the Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance, London, Prachande’s stage performances are deeply mesmerizing. Winner of many national scholarships and accolades, this gorgeous artiste is a regular feature every year during December Music and Dance Festival in Chennai.
In a freewheeling conversation, Prachande talks about her fondness for Just Herbs, an artist’s pursuit of beauty and the state of being beautiful…
What does beauty mean to you?
Shweta Prachande: Each of us carries within ourselves the innate understanding of aesthetics and intrinsic beauty. As a performing artiste, I feel that it becomes my responsibility to bring attention to or create work that speaks to this nature of celebrating the beautiful.
What role does ‘beauty’ or ‘looking good’ play in the world of performing arts?
Shweta Prachande: I think that each one of us is in search of ‘beauty’, whether it is in dance, music, painting, sculpture or literature. Performance is a medium to understand and translate the ethereal to, as close as possible, the human experience. Taking care of the skin and overall health is an integral part of being a performing artiste.
What is the one life hack that you learnt on the stage?
Shweta Prachande: You can never take your audience for granted and you can never hide who you really are on stage. Your personality will always shine through the work you do or create. I believe that it is important to remain true to whatever it is that we may have chosen to do and perform it with complete integrity.
Any backstage make-up tricks that you can share with us?
Shweta Prachande: I am a practitioner of the age old classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. The beauty and challenge of this form is that our makeup and costume is to accentuate the features of the moving body for a large audience on the proscenium (that part of stage, in front of the curtain) stage setting.
The makeup varies on the colours of the costume and the nuances of character. What remains constant is how the facial features are exaggerated to hold the attention of the audience. The emphasis is more on techniques. For instance, since the last thing one wants on stage is smudged eyes, we seal the kohl liner with a liquid or gel liner. This ensures that the kajal doesn’t run despite the sweat and heat of the spotlight.
The makeup for a Bharatnatyam recital is very elaborate. How do you remove layers of makeup after your stage performance?
Shweta Prachande: A dancer’s makeup is applied in layers and is a combination of many textures, ranging from pancake to water soluble products. Here’s my trick to remove the consistent traces of makeup: Put some coconut oil over a wet wipe and clean your face with this as the first step. Next, I use a mild scrub to deeply exfoliate the skin. Finally, I use a regular face wash.
Does being steeped in Indian classical dance inspire you to look for beauty brands that capture the essence of ancient Indian beauty heritage?
Shweta Prachande: Absolutely! After all, we have a strong history that describes the lives of not just beautiful, but strong and intelligent women who were nurtured and brought up purely using traditional remedies to enhance their intrinsic beauty and power.
What’s your favourite DIY beauty remedy?
Which is the natural beauty ingredient that you swear by?
Shweta Prachande: Water! I know that everyone keeps saying this, but the amazing beauty benefits of drinking enough water cannot be denied.
What’s the secret to your glowing complexion?
Shweta Prachande: Lots of dancing, at least 3 litres of water a day and a good night’s sleep, every night! It’s as simple as that. As dancers we need to portray a spectrum of human expression and that’s why we end up exercising our facial muscles. This is perhaps why most dancers flaunt chiseled features and glowing complexions.
What do you consider before trying a skincare product?
Shweta Prachande: For me the ingredients are the real heroes. I always prefer largely natural products and make sure that ingredient lists are free from unnecessary ‘filler’ chemicals, like preservatives or unnatural fragrances.
What’s the beauty ritual which starts your day?
What about Just Herbs do you like?
Shweta Prachande: I like the ideology of the brand, the constant need to research and innovate, and the lovely fragrances in all the face-packs. Petalsoft Antitan Rose Face Pack is my favourite, with the wonderful smell of roses. The natural shampoos and conditioners by Just Herbs also give me great results.
What is your biggest beauty challenge?
Shweta Prachande: Considering that my work involves frequent travels and erratic timings, it becomes challenging to be disciplined and to follow a proper self-care routine. But I keep trying…
Shweta Prachande: Beauty Bytes
How do you unwind?
I read or listen to music. I used to be a rugby player, so I love to watch old matches or step out for a game.
Is there any beauty ritual that gives you an instant high?
The fragrance that evokes nostalgia…
Coconut oil on a Sunday morning.
What’s your favourite lipstick shade?
Creme in Your Coffee by M.A.C.