Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee and the first dancer to receive Kalaimamani for Mohiniyattam, Gopika Varma will be performing in the Nawabi city on Saturday, 25 November 2023 in the Second Feet on Earth Festival, Dharani, at the Bansilalpet Stepwell, Natyahasini requests Gopika Varma’s student and dancer, Mythili Anoop Marrat to share a few words about her guru.
“I first went to Gopika chechi in 2004 and seeing her dance- her grace and abhinaya was a turning point for me – as I decided I want to take up Mohiniyattam after that. Being her student has given me a lot of stage experience and it is needless to say that she has a magnetic charm. So, she has been a big inspiration for me.
I still perform her choreographies and teach them to my students.
In Bangalore, in 2012, I have performed at a full-length performance of Gopika chechi’s choreographies. In 2011, at Chidambaram Natyanjali- chechi is in Shiva’s pose, and I, as Parvathy. I loved performing with Gopika chechi.”
About the dancer: Gopika Varma who has made Chennai her home since 1995, began learning dance at the age of three years from her mother. But the Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee began learning Mohiniyattam at the age of 10 from Girija and Chandrika Kurup and mastered the art form under Kalyanikutty Amma and her daughter, Sreedevi Rajan. Kathakali exponent Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair taught the dancer the Abhinaya skills. Apart from learning Mohiniyattam, Gopika also learnt Bharatanatyam from Vazhiyur Ramayyar Pillai, for 18 years.
Thiruvananthapuram born, Gopika Varma teaches her own style of Mohiniyattam at Dasyam – her Dance School in Adyar, Chennai. The dancer’s famous choreographies include ‘Ayonija Panchakanyaka’, ‘Radhayevide’, ‘Chayamukhi’ ‘Kunti’, and ‘Ahalya’.