ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

59. Hundreds dancers for a Teacher

illustration in warm colors, with a dancer siluette in the middle

Art in India is an anchor grounded in the past and connected to the present by a long moving chain. Once upon the time pupil were learning music, dance, painting in the gurkula. The house of the guru, where the kids were living for years, while studying, helping in the housework, growing up.

Nowadays real gurukulas are rare. Today the kids are sent to school to study. But something has never changed: the respect paid to the teacher has crossed the ages, intact (I assure you that reverence is bestowed even upon a simple, part time, extracurricular Italian teacher)

 

More than 700 Bharatnatyam dancers thanked their teacher with a two hours choral dance few days back. Just an example of the guru appreciation. The event happened in Cochin, where the management of a Shiva temple asked Kalakshetra Vilasini to organize a Bharatnatyam performance during the first day of the temple festival. The idea of a choral dance popped up and 750 students gathered from different part of Kerala. There were kids, girls, boys, middle aged women and men…all of them students of Vilasini teacher –no doubt one of the most prolific guru in Kerala.

 

Kalakshetra Vilasini is continuously dancing since she was 12. She was one of the first student from Kerala who got a scholarship to study Bharatnatyam in Chennai Kalakshetra under the famous Rukmini Devi Arundale. Back to Kerala Shri Vilasini became the director of the newly born RLV College of Music and Institute of Fine Arts in Thrippunithura. She has never discontinued teaching. Many years and students after, she is still enthusiastic when a new girl is initiated to dance.

In Cochin Vilasini teacher was dancing with all her students, the performance was a moment of communion in art with no borders, no age, no gender nor proficiency differences. Between the dancers there was also Revathy, our correspondent.

 

Revathy is a young woman, a dancer and a software engineer working for E-team informatica.

Revathy loves dancing. As a child she was studying Bharatnatyam but she had to stop soon for some family issues. Bharatnatyam never left her mind and two years back, in the middle of her pretty busy career, she decide to study again and enrolled in Noopura Institute of Indian Classical Dances, Poojappura. Vilasini teacher entered her life. 

“I like to perform on stage, but I know it’s too late to pursue a dance  career. I am dancing for my own sake, but I would be happy to teach one day” she told me.

Why starting again dancing only two years back, just when she was overwhelmed with job commitment?

“Bharatnatyam classes are on weekend days, two classes of 2 hours each, I can manage”. Enquiring little bit more I discovered that with her salary she bought a scooter and so Revathy can now move freely, she can go to the dance institute by herself, no need to ask a lift to someone at home. Anyway her family is happy to see her dance. Bharatnatyam is highly regarded.

 

The choral performace was no joke: 8 weeks of preparation, plus the hours of private practise at home. Sweat and commitment are but a little offer for a great teacher as Kalakshetra Vilasini.

“Our teacher is a great dancer. Even now that she is 75, the grace and elegance of her steps leave you breathless. We can see her dance on any Sunday, since she comes all the way from Cochin (4 hours by car from Trivandrum, if there is no traffic) to supervise our class. Vilasini teacher’s energy and commitment are incredible. Few class back I was dancing very badly, my teacher was scolding me when Vilasini teacher came close and to motivate me, with a smile on her lips, showed me the steps. No sign of annoyance, only desire to improve the dance. Great woman, modest even though she is a famous aged artist.”

Revathy is not the only one to have a high opinion of Kalakhsetra Vilasini. More than 700 students thanked her with their dance in the Durbar Hall in Cochin.

 

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