Graceful Expressions

Ratna Roy

Ratna Roy was born in India but came to Eugene, Oregon to earn her PhD and settled in Washington State shortly after graduating from the University of Oregon. She has now been in Washington since 1969.  She began to dance at the age of four and was soon encouraged by the praise she got as a dancer.  Although her father wanted her to focus on her education, she was able to continue dancing because she made a deal with him that he had to allow her to dance as long as she stood first in all of her school exams – which she did.  This commitment to her education helped her graduate early and by the age of 17, she was already earning her master’s degree.

After earning her PhD in African American Literature, Ratna received a Fulbright Grant to research dance in India.  Ratna specializes in Odissi, which is one of the four classical Indian dance styles that were recognized after India’s independence.  She was hired by Evergreen College in 1988 and has been teaching Indian dance there ever since.  However her biggest accomplishment is receiving the Parampara for her style of Odissi dance, which is the oldest style of Odissi, in 2018.  She describes the Parampara as “passing the heritage to the next person”, so now that she holds the Parampara, her word is final when it comes to her style of Odissi.  Ratna says that this extraordinary accomplishment was also unique because she is an American citizen.  

She is proud to be called Ratna Di or older sister by the Indian dance community in Washington and is impressed by the hard work of the dancers and the growth that she has seen over time.  Ratna is about to retire from her teaching position at Evergreen College, where she has been on the faculty since 1988, but it is very obvious that dance will continue to have an important part in her life, as it always has.

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