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The Asian Age.  | Radhika Vashisht

Life, Art

Geeta Chandran goes candid and talks about her journey and the evolution of Indian classical dance forms.

Padma Shri recipient, Geeta Chandran was just 5 years old when she stepped into Bharatnatyam.

Padma Shri recipient, Geeta Chandran was just 5 years old when she stepped into Bharatnatyam. Today, she is a renowned artist and a personality to be reckoned with. She is trained in Bharatnatyam along with Carnatic Music. She is recognised for her contribution to dance, theatre, films and videos. Chandran, founder and president of dance academy ‘Natya-Vriksha’, is celebrating “World Dance Day 2019 (April 29)”, which marks the 15th year of the festival, in Lodi estate.

Geeta Chandran goes candid and talks about her journey and the evolution of Indian classical dance forms.

“When I started learning dance, I did not plan to become a dancer, nobody in my family was a dancer or a musician but my family had music and dance lovers. But, they were also very ‘padhaku’ (studious) family in that sense, as everybody was either a doctor or an engineer.” Chandran recalls.

Chandran was good in her studies and started pursuing mathematical statistics from Lady Shri Ram College. “I was good in academics. I started learning music and dance at the age of 5 and started performing by the time I reached either senior school or college, after which, I had to pursue masters in mass communications.” Chandran says.

She tried to juggle between her studies and her passion but for her handling things were slightly difficult. “So, I just went up to my guru and asked him, if he could just give me four hours every day and when he said yes it was a turning point for me. After sometime, I realised that this is the only thing that I want to do for the rest of my life. Then I gave up everything and came into fulltime dancing. My passion became my profession. That was a beautiful phase in my life, where there was just dance, dance and dance I was just dancing.” Chandran adds.

Chandran got her training under Guru K.N. Dakshinamurthy for a long time. Chandran recalls,  “My Guru made me sit and teach under his guidance”. Talking about her experience as a dance teacher, Chandran said, “In dancing, you cannot just suddenly decide that you want to become a teacher, in my case I was taught how to teach others. After few years, my guru asked me to start my own institution and I began teaching.”

Chandran has also written a book “So Many Journeys”, when asked about her experience as an author, Chandran said “ Whenever something interesting use to happen with me, I always used to write about it, as I got lots of opportunities to travel, my experience as a dance teacher, my journey to pedagogy, all these things made a very interesting story behind it, so I thought instead of telling my students about it, I should write a book about it.”

On the evolution of performing art over the years, Chandran says, “Change is inevitable when everything is changing how can we expect dance to be static. I have seen the audience and format changing, the pedagogy is changing, the gurus are changing. I have seen huge changes that came in the performing arts. I think earlier times were different, they were glorious, there was different importance given to classical dance, the opportunity in dance have increased.”

“The overall scene has changed.  Lot of dance festivals are happening these days, earlier there was no space for any other level of dance form, I think change is happening in a different way and we cannot say that only earlier time was glorious. It’s all about how you feel it and how you react or adapt the changing environment. People now want group and mega productions more, so lot of solo space for dance has shrunk. and I think there is enough scope for good work and audience always appreciate good work” Chandran adds.

World Dance Day is a special day to bond with the community of dancers.

“This year, which happens to be the 15th year of my involvement with World Dance Day events, we will see a festival comprising interesting workshops for dancers from all classical dance styles, a public lecture on Indian culture; a biographical journey of a dancer-choreographer; and performances by three young dance dynamos from various parts of India.”

“There will also be a tribute to Karaikudi Sivakumar, a genius who we lost recently. It's all going to be very exciting.” Chandran concluded.