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MARCH 2023

Reshmi Chetram on Dance, Family, and Connecting to Culture

Written by Rebecca Dass

Sunday March 4, 2023

The word Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word, Katha, which means story. [I’m] a storyteller by trade and by soul.

Reshmi Chetram, 35,  is an Indian Classical dance educator, Reflexology practitioner, cultural philanthropist and mother of two. Growing up as an Indo-Caribbean Canadian, she considers herself lucky to have been fully immersed in her cultural identity and community engagement from a young age.


Reshmi was introduced to dance through her late mother; Deviekha Chetram, who was the owner of Tarana Dance School. Together with her sister, the late Geeta Leo, the pair came from Guyana, in the 80's. Since then, they have planted roots for many fellow immigrant families and emerging artists to preserve Indo-Caribbean music, dance and culture. 


What was it like for your family to bring their knowledge of dance to Canada?

“My mother created Tarana Dance after recognizing that many others were looking for a feeling of home after coming to Canada from Guyana and Trinidad,” she says. Reshmi's mom recognized that the call to serve her community through the arts and culture was more, that it was a communal space for stories, connection, relatability and belonging in a new land. “Indo-Caribbeans and Canadians alike, had a place they could go to hear chowtaal, bhajans, filmi songs, watch dance performances, fashion shows, experience Indian classical art and be surrounded by their communities.”

Reshmi’s mom, Deviekha Chetram performing Kathak in Georgetown, Guyana.

Reshmi is a trained Kathak and Odissi classical dancer and has spent over 20 years of her life as a dance educator passing on the teachings of her family and gurus to her community. In her teens - early twenties, Reshmi was accepted by the world renowned guru, Pandit Birju Maharaj in New Delhi for advanced mentorship in Kathak dance, and spent 7 years living between India and Toronto. During this time, Reshmi served as a bridge between India and Canada sharing ancient teachings across the globe to emerging artists through seminars, dance workshops and performances.

How did you know this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

“A storyteller by trade and by soul. The word Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word, Katha which means story. A Kathak dance artist is a storyteller. I've always gravitated towards philosophical, emotional and historical elements of life. Always weaving stories, understanding characters and finding a sense of peace in articulating emotion through words and movement has always felt like home for me. I recognized this in grade 11, I was 17 years old and the conversation of University, the future, careers was coming up and my teacher encouraged me to follow my passion for the arts versus following a path I told myself to go down (becoming a lawyer). I booked a ticket to India, and the rest is history.”

Going back to your studies in India– how did you feel there as an Indo-Caribbean?

“Growing up immersed in my culture allowed me to never feel separate from my Indian or Caribbean/South American identities. When I landed in India it did not feel foreign to me. When we travelled [to] rural parts, I could recognize parts of Guyanese culture in places such as Varanasi, through face structure/features, mannerisms, food, sounds and music.” 

What was your inspiration for creating Reysh Rituals?

“There is something so very special about the preservation and continuity of ancient forms that have lasted centuries, weaving stories using body language that our ancestors used to tell tales of their times,” she says. 


With 20 years of experience teaching, Reshmi has witnessed the positive impact movement has had on the lives of her students and clients. In her personal life, from her late twenties - early thirties whilst touring, coaching and building her companies, Reshmi suffered from undiagnosed chronic pain, two seasons of postpartum depression and anxiety and grief after caring for her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for 7 years until her passing in 2020. This period served as a turning point in her life and work. Reshmi’s research into her own health  led her to a deeper connection to her body, cultural practices and the importance of maintaining a state of balance through art, restorative practices and treatments. 

After sharing her story and journey, she experienced a deeper level of connection with her community in that, they felt seen and understood and many of them shared similar experiences. It was a clear call to Reshmi and a natural transition to the next stage of her career. Reysh Rituals was born to hold personal space for her clients & students to restore, release and connect to themselves through Indo-movement, complementary therapies and solitude. 


Reshmi’s passion and research is deeply rooted in human emotion, the nervous system and our body’s ability to restore itself. Looking forward, Reshmi is dedicated to creating space for others to come home to themselves through the work she does at Reysh Rituals Inc. 

What message do you have for future generations on expressing our culture and heritage through our lives?

“There is something special about being able to look down at certain parts of our lives and see our families there long after they're gone or as we continue to evolve into our modern lives. Whether it be in a certain dish you cook, ritual you continue or a piece of clothing you wear every so often connecting to your roots; recognize the feeling it gives you each time and take pride in knowing that it is your lived experience, it is always with you and yours to continue experiencing and pass on in the way that feels most meaningful to you.” 

You can find Reshmi on Instagram at @reyshrituals, and at


About the Author

Rebecca is an aspiring digital marketer, writer and photographer based in Toronto. With a BA in Sociology and a minor in Caribbean Studies, she joined the Indo-Caribbean Canadian Association to continue her interest in researching and writing content about Indo-Caribbean history and culture.

Fore more information visit:

Story is an Indo-Caribbean newsletter designed to bring Canadian Caribbean culture to the forefront. Explore Indo-Caribbean news, identity, and culture online.

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