Guru Vandana in true style
- G. Ulaganathan

October 4, 2015

Not many young dancers are lucky to perform in front of not only their guru but also their guru’s guru. Malavika Nair, a young collegian in Bengaluru, had this rare opportunity. Her guru is Vani Ganapathy and in the front row at the Chowdaiah Hall on a rainy evening was none other than the legendary guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai.

Making a rare appearance, he along with his wife, sat through the entire proceedings. He gave some valuable tips to the young dancer at Vani’s house the next day wherein some leading dancers from Bangalore and art lovers were invited. “Malavika can very well become a brilliant dancer like my other student with the same name, Malavika Sarukkai,” said an elated guru at the concert.

Malavika Nair

Malavika Nair, Vani Ganapathy, Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai

Malavika Nair who has been under the tutelage of Vani for the last twelve years manages to combine her studies in one of the leading colleges along with the rigorous practice sessions that Vani Ganapathy puts her through. Be it the normal Pushpanjali or the Kavuthuvam, she showed  glimpses of  her brilliance in the varnam “Maya Kannane” where the dancer recollects Krishna’s various ‘maya’ and ‘leelas.’ Malavika’s jatis were in true Tanjore style and she withstood the rigors with aplomb and always had a smiling expression.

Then came Surdas’ memorable “Maiya morey main nahin maakhan khayo.” Krishna stealing the butter and getting caught has been the favourite theme of many composers but the Surdas composition has a  unique devotional  flavour and Malavika was brilliantly able to portray different roles. “Dheemtha dheemtha dhana” in Hamsadwani was the thillana chosen by  Malavika whose agility on stage and full utilization of the space available  was a delight to watch.

Vani Ganapathi’s nattuvangam and the live orchestra added lustre to the proceedings. Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai then narrated his experience as a young child having to learn the various aspects of dance and music and practice for long hours. “These days due to studies and various other activities, youngsters do not have much time. But it is an absolute must that they should dance at least for three hours, three days a week at least.  They should also watch different styles of dance to get a broader perspective,” he said.
G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.