All ears to rhythm

All ears to rhythm

From the albums

All ears to rhythm

This photograph was taken in 1979 during a kuchipudi workshop conducted by Guru C R Acharya in Malleswaram. The duration of the workshop was one week and the cost was Rs 500 in those days. It was organised by R K Usha.

My student Sridhar also attended the workshop wherein we learnt ‘Mandodhari Shapatam’ from the guru.

At that time, travelling from Gavipuram (where I stayed) to Malleswaram would take only 30 minutes. The auto charge from Basavanagudi to Malleswaram was Rs 2 while the bus fare was 25 paise!

My father passed away when I was only two years old. My mother would go to the village to look after the crops for six months in a year, which was the only source of family income. I was brought up in my grandmother’s house.

I learnt kathak at Keshava Murthy Shala from the age of nine to 13.

However, my grandmother was quite orthodox and she asked me to leave dance and learn music. I attended music classes for a few years but soon after getting engaged, I made up my mind to take up dance once again for that was my true calling.

I joined the classes at Seshadripuram being conducted by U S Krishna Rao and his wife Chandrabhaga Devi. Such a pleasure it was to give performances with them as well! After I had children, I started taking dance classes in Basavanagudi at my mother-in-law’s place.

I learnt kuchipudi too, as is seen in the picture, and later, bharathanatyam from Muthiah Pillai. My journey in the world of dance has been beautiful and enriching indeed. Though I am enjoying old age now, I do perform ‘abhinaya’ sometimes upon the request of others.

The city was full of greenery in those days and high-rise buildings were very few in number. Bengaluru was truly a garden city. Today, the green cover has depleted and the traffic is getting worse by the day, in this bustling IT capital and Silicon Valley.  

However, the city retains a certain charm to attract various artists from all over the world. Its core ethos of welcoming people from everywhere remains its hallmark.

As for the people in the photograph, Chitra is a homemaker settled in the USA. R K Usha is an art consultant in New Delhi. Sridhar is a renowned bharathanatyam dancer as well as a former Kannada film actor settled in Bengaluru.

I have been running Venkatesha Natya Mandir, a bharathanatyam dance institute in Gavipuram, for nearly five decades now.

(The author can be contacted on To our readers

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