Making the right, deft moves

While a dancer's personality is always tied to aspects like tradition, classicity and a dimension of bhakti, Anita Peter feels its equally possible to be a modern-day woman, writes Srivathsan Nadadhur

Anita Peter

A leadership trainer by day, a mohinayattam guru by the evening, an amateur theatre artiste and a passionate biker with a resolve to bring about civic awareness, it’s obvious that Hyderabad-based Anita Peter doesn’t try to adhere to a supposed social construct for married women.

A free-spirit at heart, Anita’s strength is her versatility and the ability to slip into multiple roles with a strong conviction. It’s important to understand that she doesn’t seek validation for what she does and is unaffected by
regressive social norms. While a dancer’s personality is always tied to aspects like tradition, classicity and a dimension of bhakti, she feels its equally possible to be a modern-day woman, pursue multiple interests and still respect your artistic roots.

Perfect blend

“Bhakti is divinity, having compassion and it’s an internal journey,” she says. Anita’s passion for biking sprung up during her college days, which didn’t go well with her family. “We were three daughters to our parents and mom was particularly worried about our reputation and our adherence to societal norms. I was exposed to various aspects of tradition by my mother who always lived in her shell, mostly managing the kitchen and it was same with my grandmother too. I owe my modern side to my dad who never differentiated between boys and girls. My mother-in-law and my dance guru too were people who did a lot beyond what was handed over to them by the society and pushed my limits. Many also tell me that you are lucky to have a supporting husband because he lets me pursue my biking interests. I never asked him for his permission, he just appreciates my passion for biking and trusts my instinct.”

Being a dancer and an avid biker at the same time, there are a lot of misguided perceptions that come up her alley. A few tell Anita that she doesn’t look like a biker, to which she responds, “I ask them how should a biker look? You don’t need to have tattoos, piercings on your eyebrows or look like a cult. If you give a hundred percent to what you do, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Riding a bike is my passion, it helps me explore and conquer the fears that people have tried to instill in me.”

It’s this conviction that has also inspired her students and fellow women counterparts understand that one can pursue multiple passions at a time and still succeed on the personal front. “Dance students come with a view that pursuing the art form translates to a boring lifestyle. I ask them to stop trying to attain validation from a certain section of society and be confident the way they are. As long as their intentions don’t cause harm to anyone and they have compassion for people, there’s no issue in exploring their interests. The decision-making should be theirs by all means,” she necessitates.

Cause for concern

She now anchors the ‘I pledge awareness for change’ campaign where she bikes across the country to teach students, young-adults about the need for civic awareness. The seeds for the same were sown in Bengaluru when she noticed a few unclean areas where people were on spitting-spree on the roads. After attaining reasonable success with the campaign on a community level, she shifted base to Hyderabad and continued with her cause. “It only got worse. It was appalling to know that one can urinate on the roads and get away with it. As much as we talk about women safety, it’s an everyday sight to see men urinating in paths leading to the main road. What kind of example are they setting to children?”

Anita is in no mood to stop, and so is her dancing career that perfectly complements her personality and helps her stay grounded. “I am sure of my identity and I just hope women realise they need not stop dreaming just because they are married, or are mothers.” Anita hopes to surge ahead.

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