Bharatanatyam is an Indian classical dance form originating in South India, specifically Tamil Nadu. The word Bharata consists of three parts “bha”–”ra”–”ta”; wherein bha stands for bhava or feelings and emotions, ra stands for raga. According to this belief, bha stands for bhava (feelings, emotions), ra stands for raga or melody and ta stands for tala or rhythm. The term Natya is the Sanskrit word for dance.
How did it all begin?
I interviewed my dance teacher Anjana Ramesh, B.com, MFA and presently pursuing a PhD in Bharatanatyam. She started the dance wing at Urise Vedic Sangeetha Academy in Cox Town, Bangalore and teaches dance through this academy. Anjana Ramesh was first introduced to the world of dance at the age of three. Her mother enrolled her in a dance class, as is common in South Indian families. She enjoyed everything about dance, from getting dressed to performing on stage.
While preparing for the gruelling and time-consuming Chartered Accountancy (CA) course, she realised that dance was her passion. After completing her exams, she performed on stage for the first time in around ten months. This was the inception of her Bharatanatyam career. She started her dance classes in 2011 and has, until now, taught 300- 400 students.
Exploring various dance forms
Aside from Bharatanatyam, Anjana Ramesh has learnt some Ballet and Kathak. She has also dabbled in Kuchipudi (originated in Andhra Pradesh) and Odissi (from the state of Odisha) for a dance production. She adds, “Learning these different dance forms helped me enhance my movement vocabulary and understand that different dance styles require various types of body movements. I am that I had the opportunity to learn these different styles, and I’m always willing to learn more.”
Anjana Ramesh talked a little bit about the challenges she faced in her line of work. “Financial stability is a major challenge.” Another challenge was that she was unable to find a good university to pursue dance, and the third was a lack of opportunities. She overcame the latter problem by creating opportunities for herself.
Mentors who inspired her
When asked about who inspires her, she mentioned that there are many marvellous artists out there. Her first inspiration is Dr. Padma Subhramanyam, her Guru who changed her entire perspective and understanding of dance. The second, Smt. Kirti Ramgopal is another Guru of hers who inspired her to handle her personal and professional commitments. And finally, Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan who is an inspiration to many young dancers, specifically encouraging them to think out of the box!
Advice for aspiring dancers
Anjana Ramesh does admit that pursuing dance is NOT easy! She explains, “There aren’t many opportunities to perform. If you do end up getting a chance, these performances don’t pay as much. You cannot be a good teacher if you don’t have enough experience as a student and performer. So, it’s all connected! Don’t get stuck with either teaching or performing. Go beyond. Explore the art form through all its dimensions. Have fun when you dance. It’s a beautiful career to pursue, the main reason being, it fills you with joy and satisfaction, each time you teach, perform, watch or read!” However, she encourages caution by saying that one must always keep a backup when going down this career path.
Dance for the mind, body and soul
For those who are yet to enter a dance form as a hobby or a profession and are wondering how it can help us, Anjana Ramesh further adds, “I mentioned before, the art form has various benefits. It is also termed NATYAYOGA. The reason is, it benefits the body, mind and soul. It is considered to be another Yoga. When the Sadhana or practice is done in complete dedication, you are not only physically fit, but your mentally rejuvenated and, both the body and mind are filled with so much of positive energy.”
More than just a dance form
‘Bharatanatyam is way more than what we see with our naked eyes! There is a deep-rooted philosophy behind this dance form, and to me, that is what makes the art form so special! Anybody can dance, but going beyond and living a surreal experience is what this dance form can actually offer you, and this is what I seek from Bharatanatyam.” says Anjana Ramesh fervently as she explains what Bharatanatyam means to her.
Before signing off, Anjana Ramesh suggests, “it would be a good idea for every school to tie up with a dance institution which will teach children, systematically, following a certain pedagogy. This way the dance form doesn’t get diluted, and the numerous children benefit. Some schools like Delhi Public School (DPS), CMR and Jaigopal Garodia Rashtrotthana Vidya Kendra (JGRVK) in Bangalore already follow this.”
Contributor: Ananya Sampath
About our Writing Program Student
Ananya Sampath is a 11th Grade student studying at Legacy School, Bangalore. She enjoys reading, playing badminton and dancing in her free time. She is passionate about history and enjoys learning about new cultures and mythologies.