In India, there is no dance without music, no music without a story, rarely a story without a myth, and seldom a myth that does not speak of gods and goddesses. So it goes without saying that dance, gods, music and myth inevitably go hand in hand. Add to this combination a backdrop of lavish costumes, mesmerising makeup and shimmering jewels, and you begin to get a taste of Indian classical dance in all its splendour. At the very heart of all of India's performing arts theories lies the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra (loosely translated as 'A Manual of Dramatic Arts') is an ancient Indian essay said to have been written in the period between 200BC and 200AD, and traditionally believed to be written by the wise man Bharata. What distinguishes the Natya Shastra from other stagecraft guidebooks is its focus on emotion. Bharata tells of nine principal emotions, or rasas, that each performer must convey: disgust, love, pity, wonder, anger, delight, terror, courage and tranquility. Dancers express these emotions with a combination of facial expressions, strong makeup and intricate hand gestures. These gestures, known as mudras, can either be single-handed, or formed with both hands joining together. Renuka Santhanagopalan is a 17-year-old student from Hong Kong. She has lived here all her life, but her family is originally from southern India. Renuka started learning classical Indian dance at one of the two Indian dance schools in the city when she was just seven years old. Ten years on and she has passed her arangetram, the ceremonious graduation performance that now qualifies her as a professional dancer. In that time, Renuka had to memorise 52 mudras, with their full name in Sanskrit. She also had to learn how to understand rhythm, interpret music, synchronise her body movements and harmonise her facial expressions so her whole body puts across the emotions she wants to convey. 'Courage was the hardest [emotion] to get right,' she says. As part of her training, Renuka also studied singing and learned to play the veena, the south Indian form of a lute. 'This way I can really immerse myself in the music and bring my dancing to life,' she explains. While Hong Kong may be Renuka's home, India remains her homeland. When she dances, she is transported back to her roots, simply with the rise of an eyebrow or the tap of a foot.