Dance is joy, my life, my prayer, says Srekala Bharath
Chennai: Eminent Bharatanatyam exponent Srekala Bharath, who believes in strict adherence to her dance form and is the recipient of several awards, spoke to DC on the joy of choreographing and teaching. Excerpts from the interview.
Your thematic performances, both solo and group, make a lasting impression on rasikas. How challenging is it during these changing times?Margam is my staple diet. There is lot of research done before every performance. I did Mahila Mahima which celebrated the grandeur of woman. I took eight women in the margam order to achieve it. I had Sri Andal to represent devotion, Avvaiyar for Tamil literature/poetry, Jhansi Ki Rani for courage, Mother Aurobindo represented philosophy, Kannagi for chastity, Muthulakshmi Reddy for social welfare, MS Subbulakshmi for music and Rukmini Arundale for dance. It involves in-depth study and coordination. I derive immense pleasure in doing solo performances. Group thematic presentation also involves research. I ensure adherence to the grammar of Bharatanatyam along with solkattu and mridangam.
Name a few of your favourite thematic shows?
Mahila Mahima, Jai Santoshi Maa, Annamayya Bhakti Manjari, Dasavatharam, Arupadai Veedu , Abiramai Arul and Sakti Mahima are some of my favourites.
How do you blend traditional with contemporary in thematic presentations?I do have fusion in the form of audio, yoga and fitness postures. But all these will pertain to Bharatanatyam poses. Years ago, I performed a solo for a TV channel with Ghatam Karthik with his solkattu and my Nattuvagam artiste. In Mahila Mahima, I had just the chant of Om Shanthi Om to bring out the significance of Mother Aurobindo’s role. Similarly a group of students in different Devi poses left audience spellbound. In Dasavatharam I had puppetry to explain Kalki avatar. We also have rhythm pad and drum beats in some shows. But I don’t do them during music season. I stick to margam in solo. In group shows, I do blend contemporary and traditional through my choreography and even through costumes.
As a dance guru, what are your thoughts on students’ involvement?
It depends on the guru to bring the best out of every student. Some are naturally talented, Others have to work hard to bring out their potential. I am a sweet aunty but a strict teacher to my students.
Where else (besides Chennai) do you get an overwhelming response to Bharanatayam shows?
There is good response to Bharatanatyam in Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, the UK, the US and France. Bharatanatyam dancers are treated with respect everywhere. Dance is my passion and my life. I see it as a prayer. I love doing it despite challenges and I feel blessed.