A Small Paw Journey - As a Student and Performer
Dance, being my medium to exist, for the past 18 years, has been highly educational and lifesaving I must say!
All through these 18 years of learning and performing, it is LEARNING that has been hell bent upon me to be pursued for eternity. The idea of what a performance is, initially emanates when you watch your teacher teach (which in my case happened). As a student of Bharatanatyam, all of 9, I was put on stage for our Dance school’s Annual Day Celebrations and I was petrified more than being excited as it was my first time!! After the performance though I must have thought I actually got through it pretty well, my mind was only stuck upon there’s class tomorrow and I haven’t practiced the Jatiswaram yet. Narrating a situation that happened in life so many years ago and as years have passed by eventfully with lots of ups and downs in my art-driven life, today, being a professional dancer has taught me who exactly a performer is. This article is purely out of what I have felt dwelling in a picturesque art field.
I see my peers, my juniors and many others who are constantly thronging different websites to apply to perform at different spaces in the world where art is celebrated unanimously. Nothing wrong at all! But I just wonder if it is being done after much thought gone into one’s shaping up to be an artiste firstly (I mean to say to understand the fact that nothing other than art can take over you). This might take a lot of time to introspect and fulfill. It is a sensitive and very personal call to see oneself as a performer or as a practitioner of an art. The thin line that holds these two aspects so strong is in fact unimaginable. This article on my thoughts of who is actually a performer cannot end in just few paragraphs. To kick start what arose as a small thought in my mind, I would love to express the fact that a performer in my eyes is someone who can just not let you get away with something ordinary. He/She will have to strive effortlessly to get you hit by a sublime and innate (I wouldn’t say performance) spell!
When I realized that professional dancing was my destiny, I obviously did not step back since I knew the kind of people who are in my life- full of essence to see me grow! My parents, teachers (Ma’am and Amma) as I fondly call them, colleagues, friends, other family members and many more are constantly there to give me their unconditional love. The people in your life matter the most I feel.
Patience is the virtue when you storm into any art field. You have your armour and weapons ready but where is the battlefield? I made this comparison in a healthy sense so as to proactively enhance the idea of practice alongside performing, like a warrior would.
My first foray into professional dancing started very majestically with Bharatanjali, Guru B Bhanumati’s enigmatic group dance feature which has won the hearts of many till date since its inception in 1994 (I was 4 years old back then). I could not have asked for more. The qualities a performer needed were instilled in me right there and then. The dynamics of an ensemble is exhilarating with respect to the kind of mindset all the performers possess. It was not taught as a process but instilled with ease into our mind and bodies. These were lessons that shaped me better and have constantly been a part of my dance dictionary.
Guru B Bhanumati is synonymous not only to humility but also to generosity I must say. She supported me when she sensed the versatility I wanted to explore in the vocabulary of Indian and Contemporary dance styles. She let me go like how a mother would, to see her child grow, falling, rising and marching on.
I have collaborated with my artistic ideas and gathered extensive knowledge from some of the best and hardworking dance companies and dance organizations in India and abroad. I am deeply indebted to each and every person from every company for their love and generosity.
Punyah Dance Company, Bangalore headed by Shri Parshwanath S Upadhye, Nritarutya Dance Trust, Bangalore headed by Smt Mayuri Upadhya, Sampradaya Dance Creations, Toronto, Canada headed by Guru Smt Lata Pada, Raadha Kalpa Dance Company, Bangalore headed by Smt Rukmini Vijayakumar, Rasika Arts Academy, Bangalore headed by Guru Shri Kiran Subramanyam, Padmini Ravi Dance Company/Pradhaan Arts Centre, Bangalore, headed by Guru Smt Padmini Ravi, Shiri Dance Company, Bangalore headed by Smt Preeti Sunderajan, Nupura, Bangalore headed by Guru Smt Lalitha Srinivasan, Odisha Dance Academy, Bhubaneshwar headed by Guru Smt Aruna Mohanty, Meghna Das Productions, Bangalore headed by Ms Meghna Das, Aayana Dance Company, Bangalore headed by Manognya Balaraju.
In all these collaborations and attachments I have made, the essence of friendship in dance remains the same. As my Guru always said, “Adjust pannikko di, nothing wrong in it. Accept people however they are and see how your learning curve lengthens”. These words will ring in my ears forever.
As a performer in a group, I have learnt not to overshadow my co-dancers or underrate my presence. The thread that is combining these two is the secret energy that uplifts a group presentation. It is quite a challenge to shine in a group of equally talented dancers yet be elevating when put alone on stage. Group and solo performances are equally necessary for a professional performer to understand, learn, unlearn and relearn tremendous aspects of a performer’s journey.
These are thoughts I wanted to share with all you lovely people with the small experience I could gather over the years. I am looking forward to much more adventure in my dance career as I do in my personal life too! What is life without adventure though?!
I would like to conclude by saying something I have always believed in.
”Spreading positivity and joy wherever you go makes you a better person”
Thanking Maata Pita Guru Deivam Bandhu Mitraaha once again for being in my life!