A dancer from Kalppathy, though started with Bharatanatya, she was attracted to the Lasya and Bhava of Mohiniattam, which portrays feminine love in its myriad forms. She is Dr. Rekha Raju born in a Brahmin family in Palakkad to M. R. Raju, a business man and Jayalakshmi and brought up in Bengaluru.
She was a performer of Mohiniattam in ‘Chilanka Classical Dance Festival’ in Vyloppilly Samkrithi Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram. From Palakkad her family shifted to the garden city years back, when she was a little girl.
“My mother was an adorer of all classical dances. But she had a few hindrances to pursue her passion through learning. She transferred her interest to me and she fulfilled her dreams through me. She took me to a dance teacher, Padmini Ramachandran, when I was three and a half years old. As I was so small, she didn’t teach me anything and wanted me to sit and watch.
“After a few days, my teacher just taught me the namaskara. When reached home, I started my practice”. For some time she smiled and added ” I gave my first Bharatanatya demonstration when I was four and a half. I performed Bharatanatya for 45 minutes. My ‘Arangettam’ (Official public debut) was when I was eighteen years old. In between I performed in school and other stages”.
According to her the real arangettam should be made only after years of learning. She learned not only Bharatanatya but Mohiniyattam, Kadhak, Kuchuppudi, Odissi etc also. Now she is fully concentrated in Mohiniyattam. She performs and teaches too. Once in one or two years, she used to perform Bharatanatya. Kalamandalam Usha Nath was her Mohiniyattam teacher. She learned under Usha Nath for 12 years. Then she turned to learn from the famous Mohiniyattam dancer Gopika Varma.
“Being a dancer has its challenges, one has to get the right teacher to grow as an artiste. I like Mohiniyattam more. Got Ph.D. from Mysore University in last June. The subject was Margi and Desi Techniques in Bharatanatya and Mohiniyattam. Bharatanatya has crisp movements while Mohiniyattam has slow and flowing movements. So the latter is tough as you require more body control. I did research under Janardanan sir. He is the son of Chanthu Panikkar, famous Kathakali artist”, she discloses.
She was academically good in other streams too. She was a brilliant student. Maths was her favourite subject. She attained C.A. Inter. She is a MBA holder. She got her PG in Bharatanatya in the first rank.
“Not many fans for Mohiniyattam in Bengaluru. As the lack of patience, they can’t tolerate the slow and flowing movements of this. It is tough to understand too. I am in the research to present a Mohiniyattam, that could be enjoyed by all levels of people. I have presented many poems of Karnataka, by clubbing the feeling of lasya in them. By using only Meera Bhajan, I could present Mohiniyattam. By merging of instruments and Carnatic music, I have tried to present Mohiniyattam”, she says.
She thought it was better to learn Kathakali too, as it is an art of ‘nava rasa’, that helps her in Mohiniyattam.
She has started a dance school named, Nruthya Dhama. Dance has always been her priority. She also got enough support from her parents and teachers. At her school, she freely teaches dance for the kids from economically backward classes . She is a social worker too. ” I owe to this quality to my father”, she adds.
She is one of the few dancers who has participated in the Tanjore Dance Festival, where 1000 dancers performed entering into the Limca Book of Records. She was awarded with Yuva Kala Prathibha, Abinavabharathi, Natyaveda and Nruthya Koumudi of Andhra Government.
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