Magical rhapsody

Magical rhapsody

Dance is a medium used to enrich and nourish the body and the soul. Every movement is a language that transpires between the two to create a holistic and therapeutic experience which leaves the dancer in a trance.

The adage ‘Seeing is believing’ justifies this feeling when I watch Veena Bhat, an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer who symbolises grace and poise, leading me into a magical realm as part of this illusion.

Despite being honoured with many awards during her training years including ‘Talent of the Year’, humility precedes her when she fondly mentions her dance school, Nrityadarpan, which was founded with the sole aim of promoting Bharatanatyam, Kathak, other contemporary dance forms and Hindustani vocal.

Two main centres and several branches across Bangalore, the talented faculty at Nrityadarpan include people boasting of Master’s degrees in dance and music, supported by percussionists to add a charming note to that rhythmic foot work of almost 100 students.

The urge to connect with the soul through dance began at an early age. She had to give up learning dance as studies gained prominence; but her love for dance manifested itself at play hours where Veena would play the role of a dance teacher to her ‘student friends’. The teacher in her grew with time up until the present where she now awakens the spirit with passion by drawing her teaching techniques on a white board for perfection.

Armed with a post-graduation in chemistry and a B Ed, Veena explains the chemistry behind the art — “The experiments in a laboratory which pave way for inferences and discoveries based on reactions are similar to an experiment in dance where modifications are made on the basis of reactions, leading to inventions.”

New learning

Marriage led to a further break from dance, but reality has it that passion always hibernates only to resurface with renewed vigour. Veena started learning Kathak under Rumela Mukhopadhyay, a gold medalist and post-graduate in Kathak and contemporary Kathak under the Kaikini sisters.

The love to impart her knowledge was enabled through Nrityadarpan which mirrored its way into people’s minds through rhythmic dances taught to students. With conviction she says, “The magic of dance helps to experience the freedom of the soul, bringing one closer to the boundaries of nature and empowering the person to empathise, thereby redefining their personality.” The ambition of this ‘Maya of Nritya’ to learn and teach dance succeeded with the birth of Nrityadarpan. She believes in reaching the pinnacle by the power of ‘WE’, whereby team work and team spirit act in tandem.

Devoted to dance and its forms, recognition came her way when she had opportunities to brush shoulders with stalwarts like Neeraj Kabi and Vyjayanthi Kashi. Veena stresses, “They are messengers and torch bearers of our tradition and culture. Attending their workshops would transport me into a different setting where music spoke and dance responded. These legends are my inspiration.”

Love for teaching

Veena strives to pass on this art to children, enabling them to inch closer to their roots by embellishing their skills while training them. “A teacher is a student first. Only if I keep my mind open to fresh ideas and learn can I be a good teacher,” emphasises Veena. She believes in the ‘catch them young, watch them grow’ philosophy.

“If we identify children with the necessary potential at an early age, we can groom them accordingly. The teacher only acts as an instrument in this beautiful voyage,” quips Veena in her calm demeanour. Nrityadarpan does exactly that — transforms little children into beautiful swans, swaying to the taal with precision.

“As a social initiative, we at Nrityadarpan train children from financially poor backgrounds and also create opportunities for talented children from rural areas,” says Veena.

Nrityadarpan believes in sharing their talent with the masses through their home productions; Taal Tarang, a comprehensive programme, to be held later this year, will showcase ‘Kissa Goutami’, which attempts to present the facts of life through Kathak, folk and contemporary dance forms under the guidance of the talented theatre artiste, Anjali Ramanna, and ‘Maunadinda Nrityakke’, which introduces dance in silence, prose and poetry.

Veena enthusiastically tells me about her dreams, “I dream of setting up a state-of-the-art theatre for performing arts in my home town. This will enable art lovers across the world to come together and turn budding artistes into successful performers.”
Dreams, chased with passion and perseverance, always see the dawn of success. So, dream on, Veena...

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