Indian Classical

A third-generation classical dancer’s ‘Gurukul-intense’ life

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The classical arts of India are timeless and evolutionary in nature, believes Dakshina.

New Delhi: Coming from a family of eminent Bharatanatyam dancers, and having learnt under the tutelage of her grandmother, Saroja Vaidyanathan and mother Rama Vaidyanathan, both exponents and gurus of the classical dance form – Dakshina Vaidyanathan is a third-generation danseuse who says her childhood was “more intense than a Gurukul”.

“I grew up watching my grandmother and mother dance, rehearse, teach, compose, choreograph, create and perform. A more enriching childhood than can be imagined! More intense than a Gurukul, I was a spectator to all of this and would imitate their dance, stand at the back of their classes and copy the other children, basically I self enrolled into dance before I even knew what was going on in my life.

I would mess around with their make-up kit when they would get ready for performances and after every performance of theirs, I would take the stage and just dance extempore to an empty auditorium. Dance became a way of life for me, something that I naturally imbibed; I decided at the age 3 that I wanted to be a dancer,” Dakshina, who has studied engineering from Vellore Institute of Technology told IANSlife in an email interview.

Elaborating on her learning from classical exponents and gurus, Dakshina said: “Apart from the dance training itself which is priceless, there are many precious life lessons that I have learnt from them – about how to be a good dancer and about how to be a good human being. Because dance is a mirror of your heart and on stage you cannot hide who you really are. Your attitude towards Life, towards other people, shows very clearly in the way your body expresses itself on stage, your choice of pieces, your thought process in choreography etc.

“One valuable lesson in particular that they have taught me is humility – the dance is always bigger than the dancer, life is always bigger than the living.”

The young dancer will perform a piece exploring the mythological and philosophical significance of Devi’s Trishoola and how it plays an important part in Kundalini Yoga, during the upcoming Aavartan Festival organised by Devi Durga Kathak Sansthan (DDKS) in association with Ministry Of Culture.

The music and dance festival featuring exceptional classical talent will take place on September 4-5, and can be watched LIVE online on Devi Durga Kathak Sansthan social media pages.

“As the Founder-Director of Devi Durga Kathak Santhan (DDKS), I pay my tribute to two legendary Kathak artists, Late Pt. Devi Lal and Late Pt. Durga Lal through my insight, and share my views of strokes of art.

With this Aavartan Festival 2020, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, I feel elated to have contributed my share of benevolence for the promotion of art and artists, especially in these trying times of the pandemic, with complete precautions of safety taken for sure,” Geetanjali Lal, Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee said.

The classical arts of India are timeless and evolutionary in nature, believes Dakshina.

“They evolve with the century and the decade. Trends come and go but the art itself has stood the test of time. Our Indian classical arts make one a more sensitive human being, more open, more empathetic. A quality you can develop both as a practitioner and/or audience and connoisseur of the arts. The USP of India, the reason why we attract so many tourists from around the world, the reason why our country is termed ‘exotic’ by the western world is our rich and unique cultural heritage, of which the classical arts are an important part. To be a good and sensitive citizen of this country it is very important to understand and familiarise oneself with the classical arts. We must understand and respect the ‘bharatiyata’ that makes us ‘bharatiya’.”

“The classical arts are a medium to express ideas, thoughts, concepts etc it is a very effective and beautiful medium of expression. Sometimes the larger concepts of life and philosophy can be translated beautifully into the arts which communicate them better than other mediums,” she explained.

Asked about young talent entering the classical forms, she finds it heartening to see how many young dancers and musicians have taken up classical arts professionally and how the audience is being built for the arts as well.

“Many arts organisations and art curators are giving more and more stage opportunities to artists, many government bodies and other institutions offer scholarships and training programs too. What is most important is awareness about the arts, that is the first step to creating audiences and artists, and awareness has been building over the last few decades and is booming now because of social media.”

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