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Rama Vaidyanathan: Some perspectives

December 5, 2016

Can you define your relationship with Bharatanatyam? How has your relationship with the dance form evolved over the years?
It is like an intense love affair that has grown, evolved and matured over the years. My understanding of the nuances of the dance form grows deeper with every passing day, and the constant dialogue I have with my dance enhances our relationship and makes it reach higher realms.

Tell us about your journey from a student to a performer to choreographer to a Guru...
I don't consider myself a Guru. I am just a performer who teaches the younger generation the technique as I perceive it. I also like to share my ideas, thoughts and experiences with them to help make their journey easier. So I am all of a performer, teacher, and student because I believe that you never stop learning.

What are your fondest memories of your Guru/Gurus?
It was an absolute joy to learn from my first Guru, Yamini Krishnamurthy. She taught me with a lot of love and dedication. My second Guru, Saroja Vaidyanathan has helped and guided me towards becoming a professional dancer, and has also provided me with all the infrastructure that is essential for a dancer.

You have been acknowledged for experimenting and exploring within the traditional framework. Tell us about your very first experiment and the process of realizing it...
I did not consciously create new things or a distinctive style of my own. Neither did it happen overnight. Over several years of my relationship with Bharatanatyam, I have understood it and adapted it in a way that suits my body, my thoughts, my personality and my own spiritual journey. So there is no first experiment for me; my whole dance life has been an experimental journey.

Experimentation is a popular jargon in today's context. What does experimentation mean to you?
For me experimentation is to boldly follow your heart with the strength of conviction.

As an artiste, how has the year been special for you?
This year has been extremely busy with a lot of performances and international performance tours. But I consciously took some time out of performances to focus and prepare for the Chennai season.

You hail from a rich dance legacy. How would you like to preserve and pass it on to the next generation of dancers?
I would like to pass my individual style of dancing, choreography and treatment of texts to the next generation. I would like to make their journey easier for them.

As a teacher, what are the most significant aspects - apart from dance itself - that you strive to instill in your students? What is your personal training and teaching mechanism?
Besides teaching the basic technique, I also like to expose my students to the beauty of literature, painting, music, and guide them towards an inner awakening through dance. I also teach them the importance of time management which is a very important factor for success these days.

What is your relationship with Chennai like?
I consider Chennai my second home after Delhi. I am absolutely familiar with the language, culture, have many dear friends here and most importantly I love performing for the Chennai audience.

People from all over the world come to Chennai to perform and witness the grand and much renowned Music and Dance Season. What is it that makes you come back year after year to perform at the Season?
Chennai in December is a mega bazaar for Bharatanatyam where the most discerning audiences come. Therefore, it is important to present your work here to be judged, appreciated and criticized because it is ultimately good for your own growth as a dancer.

What's in store this year?
This year I will open my Margam with a very special work based on a Mallari in five ragas. I call it Krishna Panchaka Mallari as it is based on Krishna with verses from the Munkunda Mala. I will also present a rare Tanjore Quartet varnam in the raga Athana, and an Annamacharya Kriti presented for the first time in dance. I will also present my work, Mad and Divine, at the Brahma Gana Sabha, that I had premiered five years ago at Kartik Fine Arts's Natya Darshan Conference, curated by Anita Ratnam.

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