In a chat with Natyahasini, Dr. Sandhya Kanagadda and Prabha Sattiraju share their experiences and fears of learning dance alongside their daughters, but profess that Mohiniyattam dancer and Lasya Drutha founder Anita Peter is a patient teacher and knows how to mold her anxious and ‘Senior’ students.
Dr. Sandhya Kanagadda, who works as a Hindi teacher, in a Government High School, in Secunderabad, thanks her Mohiniyattam Guru Anita Peter for accepting her as a student. “As we all know teaching an adult is not at all easy. It’s time consuming, needs lots of patience and also rewards come very slowly or sometimes may not,” says the mother of two lovely daughters. The Hyderabadi says: “Anita ma’am has put all her energy, efforts and comes up with new ways to teach us – ‘The Mothers’. Women are very good at multi-tasking. They are skilled and capable, excellent in their respective Sectors,” she says.
On the other hand, Prabha Sattiraju, a mother of twin daughters, says that it is great learning with and from children. “We always tend to think from our perspective and teach a child and often miss the difficulties a child might face in learning. While learning dance, I stepped into their shoes. For youngsters, it is easy to learn dance as their body is flexible. For me, it was difficult to bend my body and understand the steps and train my body to be flexible. Anita, our teacher, could understand my problem and used to teach the way I would comprehend and of course children teach me at home. I could really understand what difficulties a learner faces while learning anything new,” says the mom of twins.
Immense Pleasure: The Hindi teacher states that learning dance alongside her daughters gives her immense pleasure and happiness. Revealing details on joining the dance class, Dr. Sandhya says that it all happened gradually. “With constant persuasion from Anita Peter to join the class, I pitched in. Initially, it was a surprise for my daughters, however, they got used to the fact that mom is now their classmate,” she says with a smile.
If there were any initial hiccups, Dr. Sandhya confesses that in the beginning it was a bit difficult to get used to the pace of youngsters. “However, as learning continued, I always felt I am one among them,” the dancer mom says. She says that her family has been always supportive of her. Dr. Sandhya, who has been on the dance journey since the last six years, admits that learning dance has always helped her become self-confident. “Although balancing work life, family and personal commitments was not so easy. It was tough when I had to deal with health-related issues,” says the Hindi teacher.
Family Always To Support: Prabha shares that she had to condition herself before enrolling for dance. “I used to think I’m not flexible to dance. Huge credit for my learning dance goes to Anita and Dr. Sandhya. I did not seek my family’s reaction as family is always there to support,” she says with a smile. The mother of twins says that she does not have or had any inhibitions in learning from youngsters. “I learn not only from my daughters, but also from other students in class,” admits the dancer.
Sattiraju says that learning anything new from scratch requires lot of determination. “I’m very, very fortunate to have a teacher who understands the student and the difficulties the student faces in learning. Anita, has the skill of teaching. She encourages students with different difficulties and makes learning smooth. My journey was possible only because of a good teacher and good human being with lots of understanding about other beings. She takes lot of effort in teaching a student like me and she teaches the way I understand,” says Prabha.
Elated To Perform: Sharing experiences about performance on stage, Dr. Sandhya says that she was elated to perform and at the same time was tensed to face the audience. “Dancing along with my daughters was delightful and at the same time made me feel conscious, anxious and I got emotional too,” says Dr. Sandhya. On practicing with daughters, the Hindi teacher says that she does practice with them whenever there are performances. “We do it individually too,” she says, adding: “I have not given impromptu performances of Mohiniayattam, but tried some folk steps on a few occasions at home. It was quite encouraging.”
Dr. Sandhya has taken part in many dance programmes across the city, at Ugadi & Dassera festivals, and 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Father of the Nation M.K. Gandhi, ‘Mohaname Gandhi’ at Shilparamam, Madhapur, and at Janmashtami celebrations, and Kalinga Natyotsav at Kalinga Cultural Trust, Hyderabad. Also, at Onam celebrations at Lasya Drutha-Centre for Performing and Fine Arts Foundation and Our Sacred Space, Secunderabad.
Confidence Boost: Initially, Prabha felt she was not ready to get on the stage and she needed to do lot of homework before performing on stage. “Anita, used to boost my confidence and I put more effort in learning as I had to perform and slowly my confidence got to the next level. I do have stage fear but after the performance it is thrilling that I have overcome my own fear… but, there is a long way to go. More than performing on stage… I started enjoying the rhythm and the dance,” she says. Prabha says that her daughters have taken a break, but she is continuing learning and practicing. “I do take help from my children as they quickly grasp new things and teach me at my pace,” she says.
For becoming a Hindi teacher, the Mohiniyattam dancer gives credit to her father who taught her Hindi, and encouraged and guided her throughout. She was awarded the Best Teacher Award by District Education Officer (DEO), Hyderabad in 2012. She has many other talents too. She is a voice over artist, who has given voice to a YouTube channel, in health-related videos, in Hindi. Also, learnt playing the Veena under Guru Smt. Vijaya Bala and beautifully paints Madhubani, Warli and Chittara. During the times of the pandemic, this Hindi teacher armed herself with ‘Sambhashana Sanskritam’ course from IIT Roorkee and Samskrita Bharati, India.
Advice To Moms: Mother of two daughters, one pursuing Ayurveda, and the other Intermediate second year, Dr. Sandhya’s friendly suggestion to moms is that being a mother is not an end to your aspirations. “Your determination and efforts can make your dreams come true,” says Sandhya.
The mother of twins, who are in Class XI, says learning is a continuous process and should not be stopped with age. “If you have a desire and good teacher who constantly encourages you, then nothing should stop us from learning. I keep learning and enjoying myself while learning to dance. I sincerely thank my guru Anita Peter, from the bottom of my heart who is teaching to enjoy life in dance form,” sums up Prabha Sattiraju.