In conversation with Natyahasini, Kuchipudi dancer Anusha Kalluri accepts that Dance isn’t just a part of her life, but it has stood by her like a friend through thick and thin. “Dance gave me the strength to accept my flaws and discipline myself. It definitely made me a better and positive person,” she says.
In pandemic times, and online classes, Anusha says that online classes have their own share of advantages and disadvantages. “Initially it took quite some time for kids and me to adjust and adapt to this new medium of learning and the major task is to engage kids throughout the class. I had to also change and implement new methods of teaching to be effective,” says the dancer.
Sharing her teaching methodology, she says that to develop interest and focus, once a month, the students are given a small music clip and asked to compose few steps, narrate a story through hand gestures and facial expressions. “These home works can be given to an individual or as group projects,” she says, adding the seniors are given small presentations and performances on Kuchipudi theory and repertoire on first Thursday of every month. “At the end, there is an interactive session where they can share their thoughts and clarify their doubts. This way, they stay in touch with each other as there is no direct communication and also it keeps the class atmosphere lively and intact,” says Anusha.
Knowledge of Puranas: At Srinidhi Arts Academy along with the understanding of rhythm, emotion and music, the dancer emphasis that students must have a thorough knowledge in puranas, as it is also one of the major aspects of Indian classical dance forms. “Having knowledge in puranas will help us to carry the emotion of a particular character or an episode. Along with dance theory, I also explain them briefly about Ramayana and Bhagavatha puranas to the best of my knowledge and I insist them to read books like Amarchitra Kathas etc. which will make them understand stories in these puranas easily,” says the danseuse.
Anusha reveals that she thoroughly enjoys these sessions as it also enhances her knowledge along with them. She says that it is interesting that sometimes they come up with a whole new perspective and also suggest her some books that they have read.
Recalling her dance journey, Anusha says that as a child she did not know the difference between Kuchipudi and other forms. “My mother has a great interest towards arts as a result she wanted me to learn a Classical Dance form and my parents enrolled me with Guru Smt. Geeta Madhuri. Initially, I opted Kuchipudi for activity class during my school days and later continued with the form as I was also fascinated towards it,” she says. Anusha confesses that she learnt dance from many teachers during her school days for a brief period, but proper learning started only after she joined classes with Geeta akka. “She always inspired us by sharing her experiences with great gurus and motivated us to give our best,” says the dancer. In the same breath, she gives credit to Guru Geeta for pursuing Master’s and Research in dance.
Not A Cake Walk: The Srinidhi Arts Academy founder says that her dance journey wasn’t a cake walk as she had to balance both academics and dance till Class 12. “After that I opted Arts and made up my mind to pursue Master’s in Performing Arts. I would be only lying if I say there aren’t any struggles, I had my own share of hardships to sustain myself in this profession but so far it made me a better person and no regrets about it,” she says. The dancer states that though she has not had a proper Rangapravesham, but she has given many group and solo performances.
Anusha’s says that she is so fortunate that right after Master’s she continued practice with Prof. Anuradha Jonnalagadda. “Anu ma’am has a huge impact on me in terms of Practicing, Perfecting and Presenting the form. If it is not her, I couldn’t even imagine, where I would be. I’m forever grateful to ma’am who is so pure and generous to students like me who seek her guidance. She has inspired me enough to stay on this journey and keep moving,” says the dancer.
The Srinidhi Arts Academy trains students for Certificate and Diploma courses. “The senior batch students are ready to give their Certificate examination, but due to this pandemic, exams have been postponed,” she states. Anusha has performed for a couple of festivals both online and offline in the last one year. “My students have given online presentations for our Academy, but never really made any public performances. I also didn’t stress much upon that aspect as these are troubled times for everyone and don’t want to put pressure on that. Rather I insisted them on learning and perfecting their form,” she says, adding that one sincerely hopes and prays that things get back to normal soon.