My body reacted to rhythm and music since I was a toddler. My dad was the first one to notice this and encouraged to receive technical training. In the year of 2001, at the age of 11 I started going for Bharatanatyam classes. I loved and enjoyed every bit of it. Having a defence background, relocation of residence was inevitable. In the span of 5 years we shifted to Bangalore. Here is where I got the opportunity to technically train and professionally perform.
The biggest challenge I faced was to explain my parents that I want to take up dancing as my profession. Confessing was not difficult. Them not being able to digest the fact that I wanted to leave my job of a nutritionist and take up full time dancing was the real challenge. They did not agree with my decision. But I was strong headed and decided to execute my decision without family support. I took loan and paid my fees for contemporary dance education in Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts. Before I was done with the course, I was selected to be a company dancer in the same institution. From then, there was no looking back. I continued working hard.
Initial days of full time dancing were physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. My parents who had always been my support were not really there. I had to move out and live closer to workplace. Contemporary dancing that is non commercial will not provide me a fortune, ever. I knew about it. But I think at the end of the day when you go to bed, you are happy and satisfied with your day, every day, that’s what counts. Continuous updating and training I believe are two most important elements of being a successful artist. If you can keep up with the present pace, only then will you be accepted at present. Being an independent artist, one of the main struggles is to juggle between quenching your creativity and earning money. I tend to do the prior all the time and not give much of importance to the latter. But then realised the latter is equally important to sustain in a society that has not accepted artist as professionals in general. At the age of 27, I am still figuring out way to keep both at par with each other. It is a struggle only because we are expected to work for “free” and are not accepted in the society.
At present, I am an awarded performer. I have travelled across half the globe representing India and Attakkalari. Have relatively ample experience in performance and teaching. Have also created my own work that was identified by 2 Faced Dance Company, London. They decided to fund my project and also provided me with an opportunity to put my piece across at the Biennale , Contemporary Dance festival conducted by Attakkalari. I think this was one the best moments of my career. This moment came in my life when I was in two minds with the whole “self making” process. There is no specific place or time that instigate a thought/idea or the creative cells. I think as artists we always have our whole parasympathetic nervous system at its highest alertness. Anything, any moment, anyone can become a reason or motivation for a new piece of creation/ work. If we decide to stick to the newly triggered idea and work hard towards it, then it is safe for me to say that we can bring in a change.
Dancing is the reason that I am today. It has helped me come up from the worst; it has also helped me to be grounded when I reached heights. Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy, a Bangalore based dancer is like a mentor to me. I look up to him and I feel he is one of the best teachers who I have come across. He has seen me grow as an artist from the age of 17 and is always there to guide me when I am lost. Contemporary dance community of Bangalore I think is very strong. Since it is small we kind of have each other’s backs. We support each other at the time of crisis and success. Currently being an independent artist has given me a new direction for work and life which I am excited about.
Society of course is changing. I can say this confidently as my parents have changed. Their outlook to art and artists have changed. They are proud and happy now of what I do. But that is not enough.
The day society understands that artists are important, their existence provide expression, freedom, acceptance, love and peace and I don’t see any society being devoid of these we, artists are powerful bunch of people who are a necessity for the society, we definitely can bring in positive changes in everyone’s lives.