At the tender age of 3, Dr.Rekha Raju’s mother Jayalakshmi Raghavan decided to put her in the careful hands of Dance Guru Padmini Ramachandran to guide her in Bharatanatyam.
The youngest of all in the whole class, Rekha was involved in all the shows in just 6 months of her admission. Rekha mastered academics and dance together, taking a masters degree in business administration and a Masters in performing arts simultaneously.
A chartered accountant in the making Rekha, took up classical dancing as her full time career, Rekha founded her own dance institution Nrithya Dhama Temple of Fine Arts with a motive of training students from all strata of the society under the same roof. Though Bharatanatyam was the foundation of her dance career, she had started learning Mohiniattam and has evolved as a fine danseuse and today Rekha is an exponent of Mohiniattam.
Q What has the journey in dance been like so far?
Natyam has been an internal ecstasy for me. A total bliss which connects me to my whole self and to God. I started dancing when I was very young natyam has been like a friend I have grown up with, shared my sorrows and happiness, seen through thick and thins. The journey has been tough (no complaints) , but I would say sincerity towards the art , hard work and Guru Bhakthi has made me what I am today. Primarily my parents have been with me throug my journey and I think they have taken in all the sorrows and given me most of the happiness.
Q What made you take up dance?
The reason is definitely my Amma.
The field would have been unrealistic if it was not for her. She has always involved herself to get me going deep into arts. She fulfilled her dream through me. Venturing into dance that’s always called an expensive was not easy till my Father had an agreement towards the same. If it was not for them I would be sitting in some office auditing accounts of an MNC or some business tycoon. The internal connection made me an artiste and I’m always grateful to everyone who taught me to be one.
Q What is it about this profession that satisfies you the most?
As a young girl it was indubitably the costume, the makeup, the lights, the beauty, now it’s like my breath. I can’t do a day without dancing. Natyam is a substantial part of my life. God has made me to dance is what I believe and to spread the art form. Natyam brings so much happiness that can’t be earned in this materialistic world. Passing on the knowledge of natyam I guess what more joy one can expect more than this. When students learn (young and old ) and understand the wholesomeness of Natyam that bring complete satisfaction. Every performance is an offering, the ultimatum of Devotion.
Q How do you gauge yourself as against others in this field?
Art is not a competition or a challenge to say I’m the best, God has sent all of us with a plan with a purpose, artistes specifically are God’s children because they are always in contact with the Almighty, every artiste is performing beautifully and doing wonders in her own field of expertise. Yes, there are definitely people who chose art as a commercial business, it’s their personal choice. I’m a very happy person and congratulate everyone who does well, encourage everyone and I’m good to everyone. Sometimes the hyper active me may cause complexity to many but I make it a point that I keep everyone in loop. “I serve art I am an artiste” that’s my key word.
Q What is the uniqueness you offer?
Being a researcher myself, I make it a point to research before I take up a story as I believe that audience should take back a good message and become aware of all that I want to communicate. That could be my uniqueness. Many of my fans have told me that there is a strong positive energy when I come on stage that gives them goosebumps. Mohiniattam is a slow paced dance and if audiences give me a standing ovation then I think I can humbly believe that there is something distinctive about me and my natyam. I take help form my musicians may it be the song or the layam and that’s why they are an integral part of my career graph.
Q Guidelines you follow in your pursuit of the arts and life in general?
I come from an upper middle class family, though born with a golden spoon, my father’s business has seen many turbulences making us struggle for a morsel at times, now his business is doing quite well ( supplying authentic Brahmin spices and mixes to hotels) , and I also am content. My gurus have taught me to be disciplined and committed, my parents have taught me to be compassionate to give and spread happiness, my orchestra members have taught me to be grounded, my friends students and the Nrithya Dhama family have taught me to be ever loving Rekha.
Q What would you advocate to new upcoming artistes?
Giving advice being a youngster myself is not a right thing, but some tips which I would say would pave a better route towards any career, respect your gurus, parents and elders, treat everyone equally no one is supreme, be polite help people in need, be gullible, that’s what will teach you to be you.
Q Any word of wisdom?
Don’t be jealous of others growth. Make productive use of the time that’s given to you.
Don’t gossip- it will defame you. Money can’t buy everything, there are lot of precious things that come only through hard work. There is no short cut to hard work - believe and execute
Rekha has involved herself with various NGO’s like Cristel House, St. Theresa home for children, Freedom Foundation, all of which which help in the holistic development of children suffering from various disorders and poverty. Rekha encourages all art forms and as a responsible youngster she imparts knowledge of different arts forms to students. In this context she organises a cultural event every month at her dance studio which acts as an eye- opener into the world
Have been able to carve a niche for yourself in this field?
Mohiniattam is the most graceful art form, instead of personalising I think Mohiniattam has been able to carve its way. I believe art is bigger than the artiste and I prefer saying it my dance that has got its mark on me. I completely believe that I’m too young to talk about talking about what I have done. Thayagaraja Swami has said - Endaro Mahanubhavulu Andariki Vandanamalu - I’m nothing at all.