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Inborn interest in dance: Maheetha Bharadwaj
- Lalitha Venkat, Chennai

January 14, 2006

Maheetha Bharadwaj has done her Bharatanatyam arangetram in September 2004 in the US. Her gurus are Adyar K Lakshman in Chennai and Sudha Srinivasan in US. She has given many performances in US and some in India too, including raising funds of $1200 for Udavum Karangal. Influenced by her maternal grandmother, Maheetha is a keen Carnatic music singer and actively participates in Thyagaraja Utsavam festivals. She is a good swimmer and learns the piano as well. And she is all of 10 years old!

In Chennai with her family for the famous December season, Maheetha gave a performance on January 8, 2006 for Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha. Guru Adyar Lakshman conducted the recital and gave vocal support along with K Rama Rao. L Baba Prasad on mridangam, A V Unnikrishnan on flute and her grandmother Meenakshi Gopalan on veena provided accompaniment for her nearly 2 hour recital. She presented a mallari, a jathiswaram, varnam 'Manavi chekonaraadhaa,' a short padham in praise of Devi 'Devi neeye thunai,' another short padam 'Nee uraipai' where Rama sends Hanuman as envoy to Seetha, an item in praise of Lord Krishna and a thillana in Brindavana Saaranga.

"Do you ever have stage fright?" I asked her before her performance. "NO!" said Maheetha, brimming with confidence, as she tied her ankle bells. "I have given many performances before." This assured young lady is very clear in her mind about her chosen vocation - or rather, one of them as she is multi-talented!

From when did you start learning Bharatanatyam?
From four.

Did you start learning dance because your parents wanted you to, or because you wanted to?
I had an inborn interest in dance. I wanted to learn dance. My mom also introduced me to dance and I developed my own interest because I like the movements. I just like how dance is. I love ballet. I started to learn ballet when I was 3, but transportation was difficult, so I had to discontinue after barely a year. I was so disappointed.

How often do you attend classes?
Guru Adyar K Lakshman came to conduct a workshop at St. Louis. He started to teach me too. Then he had to go away to India, so he introduced me to his senior disciple Sudha Srinivasan. Depending on what I am learning, I attend 2 or 3 classes a week. Sometimes for 30 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours depending on the adavus or items.

How did you feel about performing in Chennai?
I have done it before, so it was not like a new thing for me. But there's a different way of dancing here, like the climate, how much I sweat, how much stamina I have to use. The floor is also different.

Do you understand what you perform or do you just do what your teachers say?
To give expressions, I must understand what my teacher says. So, yes, I do understand what my teacher explains to me.

How do you manage your studies and your dance?
I am now in my sixth grade and have lots to study. But dance for me is fun, gives me relaxation and also new concentration. I love dance!

Do you intend to seriously continue to learn dance?
Yes! My dream is to become a performing artiste and teacher as well...

Maheetha can be contacted at: