Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher and founder of Sri Datta Natyalaya, Rashmi Sachidananda, speaking to Natyahasini, is all in favour of dance being included as part of the education system. Though she agrees that dance on the contrary is not every one’s cup of tea, especially classical dance art form, but favours folk dances. “Folk dances should be introduced for all students as it can be stress buster, physical and mental health booster and also can help in team building. Odissi was included for IIT Bhubaneshwar students as they are overloaded with syllabus, stress and pressure, hence dance will help them build better mental and physical health condition,” the dance teacher says.
Rashmi, who is presently working as a dance teacher in Phoenix Greens International School, Hyderabad, enjoys teaching dance and feels blessed to be sharing her knowledge and calls it just a drop of water in the ocean of dance. “My adrenaline level is high during my dance class and that proves the point I enjoy dance thoroughly,” she says.
The teacher says that her dance journey had lot of breaks and she overcame all of them as she was destined to be a dancer. “Every time I restarted my dance, I could reach milestones and I am grateful to my dance gurus – Sudha Nagaraj, Suparna Venkatesh, Sujatha Venkatesh and Padma Hemanth for recognising my potential and guiding me to become a better dancer,” says Rashmi.
Love For Folk Dances: Sri Datta Natyalaya founder confesses that she was always inclined towards dancing from her childhood. “Frankly speaking, Bharatanatyam was not my first preference, but I was destined to become Bharatanatyam dancer and was lucky enough to find good Bharatanatyam teachers near my place of residence,” she says with a smile. She says that she always believes one has to be versatile dancer and she likes to learn all dance forms, but if given a chance she would like to learn authentic folk dance of all states.
Rashmi says that there are no artists in her immediate family, but her cousins and their relatives are. The dancer moved from Bangalore to Hyderabad in 2016 and runs her own dance academy under the name of Sri Datta Natyalaya. “Unfortunately, till date none of my students have performed their Arangetram, but very soon it will happen. However, I ensure my students take up Gandharva Mahavidalaya exams every year.”
The dance instructor says that she loves performing at both places – temples and auditoriums. “I find temples give me a satisfactory feeling, it’s a Nritya Seva to God and also the audience enjoys more here,” she says.
Open For Learning: Rashmi, who is a B grade Artist of Karnataka Doordarshan Channel and has passed the Bharatanatyam Senior Exam with Distinction says that she has not thought about Ph. D. as of now. “But I have always kept my doors open for learning,” says the dancer. She says that she accompanied her husband on his assignment to Switzerland and met her dance teacher Guru Sujatha Venkatesh, born and raised in Bangalore but moved to Switzerland after her marriage, and was teaching the art form there for over two decades. “It was in 2011 summer, one of my teachers – Guru Suparna Venkatesh referred me to Guru Sujatha for learning and to my luck Sujatha accepted me as a student and also gave me an opportunity to be her assistant. It’s a proud feeling to be teaching our Indian art form to the people in Switzerland.”
Before taking leave, Rashmi says that she is thankful to her spiritual guru, His Holiness Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamiji and dance Gurus for making her a better dancer, dance teacher and most of all a better human being.