Leaving a legacy behind

Leaving a legacy behind

Veteran kathak dancer, choreographer and Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner Maya Rao, who passed away on Sunday night, was among those who restored the art of dance to its glory.

The 86-year-old was synonymous with on stage endeavours of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography which she founded in Malleswaram.

People remember her for her discipline and commitment to popularising kathak. Her work in kathak choreography, especially in dance ballets, has been performed by her students who say they will miss her both as a friend and mentor.

Ramya Nagaraj, who trained under Maya Rao, at Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography for close to 15 years calls Maya a ‘walking encyclopedia’.

 “What was most striking was her positive attitude to whatever she took up. Her discipline is something that her students have picked up. She was a mentor and guide to us and will always be one,” explains Ramya.

Lakshmi G Pradeep, who also trained under Maya for 19 years and currently the principal of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography recollects, “When we would go to her (Maya) house for lessons, she would never begin the class without offering us something to eat and drink. She would never encourage laziness and would tell us that if we weren’t interested in what we were doing, we should find something else. She was a perfectionist and enjoyed whatever she did. That made a huge difference,” recollects Lakshmi.

Danseuse Nirupama Rajendra feels that with Maya’s demise, a part of her has gone. “My bond with Maya didi got deeper even after I completed my course under her guidance.
She was someone we could talk, discuss and debate anything and she her valuable insights would bring out the best in you,” remarks Nirupama.

She further observes that Maya could have continued to perform but she chose to share her art and experience. “She not only taught us how to dance but how to direct dance as well which not only doubled up as a valuable lesson in dance but in life as well,” she states. 

Janardhan Raj Urs, artistic director of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography, states that Maya taught all her students to respect Indian culture and arts.

 “She always told us that India has a rich culture and heritage and that it had to be shown to the world. I will carry forward her vision,” states Janardhan.   

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