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My mother Parvathi
- Deepa Shivananda, Bangalore

August 11, 2012

Sharing a few episodes from my childhood...
Imagining Hema Malini and Vyjayanthimala when she was expecting me, Amma encouraged me to learn Bharatanatyam. It was in 1990, on Vijayadasami, that we started my dance class. "So you like dance," my guru asked and I just nodded saying "yes" not realizing that Amma's one basic interest and efforts would change the next 20 years of my life significantly and make me what I am today - a transformed young woman with a goal to realize the dream that my mother had initiated.

In 1991, I won my first dance competition organized by Delhi Kannada Koota. I performed pushpanjali. "See! I knew you would win. Always feel the emotions in the lyrics. It's all about practice. You should do adavus everyday. It will improve your aramandi. Look into the mirror and practice expressions." My guru Padma Sampath Kumaran completely agreed with her and soon both of them became close as we progressed as a team. Amma always insisted on facial expressions. "Smile, OK" she would always remind me before any performance. She does that even now. My Arangetram was more like a wedding celebration. I remember how particular she was about the correct side of the surya - chandra on my head, setting the rakudi and of course "practice." Although brought up in a modest family background, she had an aesthetic approach and always aimed high in life for us and insisted on self confidence during our upbringing.

It was her love and devotion for dance that without any formal training in the art form, she developed an enduring understanding of classical music and dance and as a committed mentor, often gave references of the veterans in the field. Dance became an integral part of discussion in our family. She would accompany me to all the competitions and gave those last minute winning tips. She patiently stitched a beautiful costume for me. Appa always gave us creative freedom and appreciated our efforts.

It was obvious by now that I was going to be a dancer. In a society that didn't respect dance as a career, she stood by me and introduced me as "my daughter is a classical dancer" and my Appa would list my achievements. My friends in school and college consider me lucky to have a mom who is supportive and who respects my words. The only criteria she had in mind for finding a suitable groom for me was that he should accept her daughter as a dancer. She definitely found one...

That program in 1997 changed my whole idea of dance and dancing. It was organized by a particular organization who informed us just two days before the event. Amma explained how important that dance program was and convinced the ticket collector to let us travel without reservation. We managed the overnight journey from New Delhi to Lucknow and performed. That day I told her: No matter what, I will always dance...for you, Amma.

Deepa Shivananda is a Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher from Bengaluru. For over ten years she has choreographed, performed for major Government sponsored festivals, trained and coordinated several dance and music cultural events for the schools that she worked with. Through her current position as a dance facilitator at an International school, she has developed relevant curriculum and lesson plans. Deepa is a district level winner of RANK and BOLT awards for innovative teachers organized by Air India and Dainik Jagran, 2007-08.

Lucky to have mother like Smt Parvathi Bhavani Shanker who dreamed of you becoming a great Bharatanatyam dancer and you fulfilled her dream. Keep it up. I feel mom is your first guru.
- Hibiscus (Aug 12, 2012)

Dear Deepa,
I have met your mother long back. I think it was when you have performed at Mamta Modern School and you were returning home. I had even spoken to her on phone once to congratulate you for winning Boogie Woogie competition. She was very thankful. I too have always found you were very focused towards dance. Touching article on your mother. Keep it up.
- Brij (Jan 5, 2017)

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