Deepa Kartha, a versatile dancer, looks every bit a classical dancer having expressive kohled eyes, beautiful sari complete with co-ordinated jewellery. Dance is not a mere profession to her, but passion. ‘Ratna Villa’, her house in Ponoth Road, Kaloor is now enjoying the sweetness of a dance form, ‘Kathak’.
Kathak traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathakars or storytellers. Its form today contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement.
When we approached her to have a close look to her professional as well as personal life, she was busy with Jugalbandhi. It is a performance in Indian classical music, especially the Hindustani classical music, that features a duet of two solo musicians.
Deepa has a dance school named ‘Rudra School Of Classical Dance’ in Ernakulam. The coming day, she is going to do Jugalbandhi in Palai, Kottayam, accompanied by her students from the dance school.
What makes her different from other classical dancers who learnt Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi etc., is that she has added the unlikely Kathak to her repertoire. And her’s is one of the few dance schools in Kochi which teaches Kathak.
She learned Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchippudi, Kathakali etc. Even though she had no family tradition to claim on dance, she has lots to claim as credit with her passion and patience towards the performing arts.
Some of the prizes that she won as a student include second prize for Bharathanatyam at the State Youth Festival and the first prize for Bharathanatyam at the M.G. University Youth Festival and the first prize for Mohiniyattom in the same festival.
Once in Kathak art gallery Thrissur, she attended a class by well known Kathak artist Parvati Datta from Ourangabad. That was a turning point in Deepa’s life and that took her to the famous Kathak artist Pandit Birju Maharaj in Ourangabad, with the permission of Parvati Datta as she was his disciple. In those days nobody in Kerala was available to teach Kathak.
In the initial stages, she had to face many difficulties as it is entirely different from the other dance forms. She has presented her solo performance in Kathak lasting about 2 hours at TDM Hall, Ernakulam, last year. Before that she had done group performances.
According to her, “perfection is the priority to a dancer”. Viewers of this dance form are more compared to other dances. The freedom of movement that Kathak affords, in comparison to other classical dance forms, where the posture is half-seated, gives a certain degree of speed.
Kathak’s chakkars or spins are very popular and fast paced and it is an aspect of the dance form that lets the audience enjoy it. Some of Deepa’a students have gone to compete at State level competitions and won top prizes. Deepa has done choreography for the film ‘Natan’ directed by Kamal and for the film ‘Mohavalayam’ by T.V. Chandran.
Her husband, Reji Bhaskar, a photographer and son Vignesh, plus one student are great supporters for her. She achieved Central Government scholarships twice for ‘Mohiniyattam’. She has got Krishna Sabha’s best dancer award too. She has got chance to present dance in Malaysia, Dubai, Maldives etc.