Esther Jenny Keshava

Esther Jenny Keshava

Yoga- and Dance Teacher and Dancer

The Indian dancer and Yoga teacher Esther Jenny teaches Yoga, meditation and Yoga for expecting mothers at the Kalasri Institution in Basel. She also conducts workshops and seminars.

Esther Jenny grew up in a well-known artistic family in Basel. Her mother is Trudi Gerster, the famous teller of fairytales in Switzerland, and her father, Walter Jenny, was a professor of chemistry. From early childhood Esther Jenny took singing and dancing classes. She had singing and speaking recordings on sound carriers and played various roles on stage as an actress. When, at the age of 18 she saw an Indian dancer perform, she was so fascinated that she decided to travel to India in order to study the wonderful art of Indian Dance. From 1969 on and as the first European, Esther Jenny studied the Indian dance style Bharatanatyam at the Fine Arts College in Mysore (South India). She learned from Padmashri Dr. Venkatalakshamma, one of the last deputies of a highly respected tempeldancer-dynasty and Vidwan D. Keshava, her future  husband. In 1974 she absolved her Arangetram (debut solo performance of the entire Bharatanatyam repertoire) capturing the expert audience with her skills, charm and charisma. During the same years Esther Jenny received training from the renowned yoga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois at the Asthanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore to be a yoga teacher. Further education followed with Yogiraj Deshikacharya and B.N.S. Iyengar. From 1976 on Esther Jenny and Vidwan D. Keshava performed together as the dancing couple. They delighted the audience with classical Indian dances, folkdances and Kalasri productions. Their countless appearances in Switzerland found a delighted audiences. In Basel they opened the first school of Yoga and Indian Dance in Switzerland and acted as pioneers in making Indian art and culture known in Switzerland. Consequently Esther Jenny has taken part in numerous dance productions and tours, made TV appearances and published books about Yoga.

In addition to her teaching she supports her mother Trudi Gerster in the continuation of her life’s work.

Education and Career

  • 1969-1975 Dance studies with Padmashri K. Venkatalakshamma, Fine Arts College Mysore; intense dance classes with Vidwan D. Keshava, Mysore
  • 1970-74 Yoga studies with the renowned Yoga teacher Sri K. Pattabi Jois, Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute Mysore (in the Krishnamacharya tradition), certificate in 1974
  • 1971 et seq. Vocal studies with Smt, Rajamma Gowda and Premanand (Carnatic and Hidustani singing)
  • 1974 Arangetram (debut, first solo performance of the entire Bharatanatyam repertoire) in Mysore
  • 1975 et seq. Continued studies in Yoga with Yogiraj Deshikacharya and B.N.S. Iyengar
  • From 1976 on
    • First solo programs in Switzerland (Museum of Cultures, Basel, et al.)
    • Founding of the Kalasri School of Yoga and Indian Dance with D. Keshava in 1976
    • Yoga teaching assignment in the Studio for Music and Theater of the Music Academy Basel (over 20 years)
    • Numerous performances and tours as the dancing couple Esther and Keshava in Switzerland, India, Germany, Italy, France and Austria, diverse programs with Indian temple dances and folkdances

Appearances in major productions

  • 1980 Mohini Bhasmasura (as Mohini)
  • 1987 Buddha Charitam
  • 1991 Tour with Indian musicians on the occasion of the 700 Year Anniversary of Switzerland
  • 1993 Ramayana (as Sita)
  • 1995 Dance Festival in Mysore in honour of the Maharaja
  • 1996 Soloist in the Kalasri production The Four Indian Dance Styles
  • 1996 Engagement as a soloist at the Asia Festival, Music of the World, Basel
  • 1997 The Four Seasons (music by A. Vivaldi)
  • 1999 Navagraha (sun, moon, planets)
  • 2003 Dance Festival Mysore
  • Terre des Hommes Anniversary
  • 2006 Choreographing and dancing The Dove in the world premiere of House of the New Creation by Silja Walter, music by Carl Rütti, at the Ingenbohl Convent, Switzerland

Publications, Continued Training

  • 1990 Publication of the successful book Yoga – Grundkurs für Anfänger (Basics for Beginners) (with D. Keshava), GU Publishers, Munich, translated into Danish and Italian
  • 1998 Co-Author of Fühl dich gut (Feel Good) (GU), Naturmedizin heute (Contemporary Natural Medicine) (GU) and other publications about Yoga
  • 1992 et seq. classes with the renowned Odissi dancer Dr. Menati Mishra
  • 1999 Diploma in classical massage and additional training in Ayurvedic healing techniques
  • 2011 Several publications about Kalasri and Yoga in preparation