The youngest daughter in a family of six siblings, S M Sandhya, did not follow the path her sisters took. She shunned athletics, her father’s profession, and embraced dance. Her father SB Muddu Krishna, who noticed the dancing spark in Sandhya enrolled her under Guru S Ameer Basha at the age of six years. Speaking to Natyahasini, S M Sandhya, shares that when she stepped into a dance school, the bells and the energetic foot tapping attracted her. “Though I did not know the difference between various classical art forms at such a tender age, I was keen to learn them. I have learnt Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and folk dance. Over the years of learning Kuchipudi, I have grown very fond of it and can’t dream of life without it,” says the petite dancer. She shares that Kuchipudi left a lasting impression on her mind as it is an art to balance while dancing on a plate with a water-filled pot over the head. “Also, there is scope for lot of Abhinaya,” she says.
Sandhya is ever grateful to her Guru Patnam Siva Prasad Garu, who made Kuchipudi very interesting to her. Till date she continues to learn under him. When she moved to Hyderabad to pursue academics in Dance, she learnt under Subramanyam Garu and came out with flying colours earning her Diploma and Certificate in Kuchipudi. After her BA in Telugu Literature, Sandhya pursued MA in Kuchipudi and M.Phil. in Folk Arts from PS Telugu University. Making use of the pandemic time, Sandhya is pursuing MA in Telugu from Sri Krishna Devarayya University, Anantapur. Armed with dance certifications, Sandhya took up a job of a Dance Instructor in Sharada Dance & Music College in Kurnool, but her heart wasn’t there. “I have this urge of performing and this wasn’t possible while teaching. I quit and established my own dance school to give wings to my creativity,” says the dancer.
Sandhya is thankful to her Gurus, who enriched her with Classical Kuchipudi dance, and during her study at the PS Telugu University was part of the Indian Youth Delegation to Seoul, South Korea in 2009, and also performed at World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore, Pakistan in 2008. In 2007, she also performed at the Darwin Entertainment Center, Darwin, Australia and Singapore V.T.S.A.V Deepavali Street Parade Ground.
Family Support: Even after her marriage to P. Anand Kumar, and birth of two daughters, Sandhya still breathes and lives dance. “I have been learning and performing since 1990. Though there have been problems from time to time, my passion for dance and the support of my family has helped me to cross the obstacles,” says the ever-smiling Sandhya. She says that before the pandemic she was teaching in Delhi Public School, Nadergul, where the four-year-olds participated in Kuchipudi dance Tharangam in front of Education Minister Smt. Sabitha Indira Reddy Garu in February 2020.
Recalling an incident, Sandhya says that she was suffering from a severe headache and had gone to her home town Anantapur from Hyderabad. One the way, she planned to drop in at her Guru’s place to pay respects. It was then that her Guru said: “I am glad Sandhya you are here today, take part in the District Dance Competition.” Initially, she had refused. But her father, drilled sense into her and told her Guru to do the needful and Sandhya would participate. “It was after participating in this competition that doors for dancing opened for me. After District-level, it was State-Level and then National and International. If I had not participated then, the whole story would have been different,” she says. The dancer advices that one must follow their Guru as they have a wider perspective.
Dance Ballets: The Kuchipudi dancer has participated in many Dance Ballets. She played Parvathi in ‘Vasavi Kanyaka Parameswari’, Mohini in ‘Mohini Bhasmasura’, Mahashakthi in ‘Mahashakthi’, Lalitha Devi in ‘Lalitha Devi Prasannam’, Saraswathi in ‘Gajendra Moksham’, Manmadhudu, Rati Devi, in ‘Girija Kalyanam’, Lakshmanudu in ‘Lava Kusa’ to name a few. Sandhya shares that students of her dance academy, Sri Saraswathi Krupa Nruthyalay participated in ‘Yendaro Mahanubhavulu’ dance number at Chennai in February 2020 for the Guinness Book Of World Records. She has also participated in several Dance Festivals across the country and also during the Republic Day Parade. On a couple of occasions, she has participated in Nadaneerajanam programme hosted by the SVBC.
The dancer has been honoured with many awards since she began her career. But this year, she has been bestowed with awards such as Most Inspiring Woman, Best Choreography, Natya Bhushan, Natya Chudamani and Shiva Nandi. Sandhya has one piece of advice to youngsters – “Every child must learn one activity as it will help them to have a balanced view of life.”