Thursday, May 30, 2024

Steps to enduring glory in rhythm with tradition

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Bharatanatyam guru Manjula Ramaswamy, who recently received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi award from President Droupadi Murmu for her exceptional contribution to dance, has proved how girls are as capable as boys when it comes to carrying forward family traditions and legacies. “Every soul on this earth is born for a purpose,” the memorable words of her father and Guru VS Ramamoorthy, resonate well with her, going by her accomplishments. When he gave his daughter the reins of Sri Rama Nataka Niketan, he saw in her an able torchbearer who would uncompromisingly spread the 2,000-year-old dance of Bharatanatyam in its pristine form throughout the world.
Numerous former students of Sri Rama Nataka Niketan (SRNN) attest that the institution is far more than a dance school. To them, it is a home away from home so much so that they get ‘homesick’ if they are away from it even for just seven days! Such is the pull of SRNN, where the illustrious father and daughter have trained thousands of students for over 45 years.
Well, in one of the videos that went viral back in 2018, Manjula Ramaswamy is seen sternly instructing her students in Bharatanatyam. A stickler for perfection, she believes the classical form of dancing needs to be done correctly to the last detail. For the legions of her followers, the woman is more than a guru; she is an indulgent grandmother who is with them through thick and thin.  Among the greatest Bharanatyam dancers, Manjula, director of SRNN, has led the organisation to great heights, earning a spot in The Unique World Records, World Amazing Records, Elite World Records, Asia Book of Records, and Limca Book of Records, among others.
A de facto instructor from the tender age of 10 years, she went on to help her father, late VS Ramamoorthy, in his dance classes and gradually mastered classical dance form, rising to prominence in creative choreography. Her pupils have since demonstrated the authentic style of Bharatanatyam, winning accolades in prestigious contests and TV shows.
For our special segment of Dil Se this week, The Pioneer’s Tejal Sinha connects with the veteran Bharatanatyam guru, as she takes us through her childhood days, her formative years, her father Guru V.S. Ramamoorthy being her inspiration, and much more.

Dance class happy place
During my childhood days, I was calm and composed, mostly engaged in learning new things. My growing years were truly beautiful. It was a blend of wholesome activities. School was my happy place, and dance class was my happier place. Throughout the journey, I learned new lessons at each stage.

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