Treasure Trove & Committed To Her Craft

~Soundarya Kaushik

“I began my journey into the world of Kuchipudi dance, under the guidance of Dr. P Rama Devi, my esteemed Guru, whom I actively learned from and performed under. However, it was a pivotal moment when I met my husband, Kaushik, who played a significant role in transforming my passion for dance into a deeply rooted commitment. As our relationship blossomed and we embarked on our journey together, he provided unwavering support and encouragement for me to pursue my love for dance more ardently. Following our marriage, I found myself fully immersed in the Dance world, and with his support, I was able to channel my hobby into true passion. From that point on, my dedication to dance only grew stronger, and the rest, as they say, became history.

Dance Under Athaya: Learning dance under the tutelage of Guru Usha Gayatri (athaya) was an incredibly enriching experience for me. It was a journey filled with inspiration, discipline, and profound growth. Her teaching style not only imparted technical skill but also instilled a deep appreciation for the art form. Every session with her was a blend of challenge and reward, pushing me to exceed my limits while nurturing my creativity. Her guidance not only refined my technique but also cultivated a sense of grace and expression in my movements. Learning dance under her mentorship was nothing short of transformative, as it not only honed my skills but also shaped me into the dancer and individual I am today.

Rangapravesham With A Difference: Unlike many dancers who traditionally perform their Rangapravesam at a young age, my journey took a unique path. I had the privilege of performing my Rangapravesam after my marriage, which initially felt like a deviation from the norm. However, as I delved deeper into the preparation process, I realized that the timing of this milestone was inconsequential. 

Nonetheless, I embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly, finding pride and significance in the fact that I could perform my Rangapravesam as a Daughter-in-law of the Maddali Family. It indeed added a unique dimension to the occasion.

Contrary to popular belief, Rangapravesam isn’t merely a finale of a dancer’s journey; rather, it marks the beginning of a new chapter filled with unwavering commitment to the art form. It’s a pledge to continue dancing with passion and dedication, transcending any societal expectations or norms. I hope that in this modern age, parents and enthusiasts alike come to appreciate that the true essence of Rangapravesam lies in the enduring commitment to dance, regardless of when it occurs in one’s life.

Transformative Periods: This particular phase in my life stands out as one of the most challenging yet transformative periods I’ve experienced. It was a time of profound self-reflection, where I delved deep into understanding not just the intricacies of dance, but also the complexities of my own personality and the dynamics within my family.

Navigating the transition from being a family member to a dedicated student was no small feat. It demanded a delicate balance between nurturing a harmonious home environment and passionately pursuing my love for dance. In this delicate ‘dance between domestic duties’ and artistic endeavours, I found myself constantly adapting, learning, and growing.

However, amidst the chaos and occasional disagreements, this period also served as a learning experience for personal growth and familial bonding. It taught me invaluable lessons in patience, resilience, and the art of gracefully managing conflicting priorities. Through laughter, tears, and moments of epiphany, my family and I forged stronger bonds and developed a profound appreciation for each other’s roles within the household.

Distinct Flavours: Absolutely! As dancers, it’s almost instinctive for us to share a few laughs and perhaps a bit of friendly gossip! Despite both of us being rooted in the Kuchipudi dance form, our individual styles, or ‘baanis,’ brought distinct flavours to our collaborative journey.

Coming from a different stylistic background, I found myself grappling with the nuances of her approach, which at times seemed more intricate than what I had previously learnt. However, as they say, time is a great teacher, I gradually acclimated to her style, unlocking new dimensions in my own artistry along the way. Once I cracked the code, there was no looking back.

On lighter occasions, when we find ourselves attending programs together, it’s inevitable that we indulge in a bit of playful banter. Gossiping about the choreographies we witness, critiquing them with a discerning eye, and perhaps even brainstorming on how they could have been better —it’s all part of the camaraderie and shared passion for the art form. After all, who better to exchange insights with than a fellow dancer who understands the intricacies of our craft? It’s these moments of shared laughter that add an extra layer of joy to our lives.

No Intimidation: Frankly speaking, I’ve never been one to feel intimidated by benchmarks set by anyone, including her, for my approach to life is more about living in the moment and embracing my own unique style. I don’t carry the burden of comparison or the need to constantly prove myself. I firmly believe that my style is my own, and those who appreciate it will gravitate towards it, while others may not, and that’s perfectly fine—it’s all subjective to one’s understanding of the art form.

While I acknowledge the privilege of being associated with such benchmarks, I also recognize that it comes with its own set of pros and cons. However, rather than allowing it to dictate my path, I prefer to focus on honing my craft and staying true to myself, confident in the knowledge that authenticity resonates far more deeply than conformity ever could.

Brilliant Choreographies: As a dedicated disciple and choreographer, I deeply honour and embrace the exquisite choreographies crafted by her. Among her many masterpieces, some stand out as true benchmarks in the realm of dance. I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to practice, teach, and perform these iconic pieces, each time striving to do justice to their artistry and depth.

Among her choreographies, that resonate with me deeply are ‘Oka Pari,’ ‘Merugavantidi Alimelumanga,’ ‘Kathanakuthulam Thillana,’ ‘Brindavana Saranga Thillana,’ and ‘Alimelumanga Pravesika Daruvu.’ Each piece encapsulates a unique blend of tradition, innovation, and emotive expression, leaving a lasting impression on both performer and audience alike.

In today’s digital age, we are fortunate to have access to recordings of these choreographies, allowing us to revisit and study them with ease. Ma’am’s foresight in preserving these invaluable resources for her students speaks volumes about her dedication to the art form and her commitment to nurturing future generations of dancers. With these digital archives at our disposal, we can delve deeper into the intricacies of Ma’am’s choreographic genius, drawing inspiration and insights that enrich our own artistic journeys. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of her work and the profound impact it continues to have on dancers worldwide.”

Wealth Of Experiences: Given her extensive artistic journey spanning over 60 years, she possesses a wealth of experiences, insights, and memories that only she can eloquently capture. As someone who has been a part of her life and artistic endeavours for the past 10 years.

With such a vast journey behind her, she holds a treasure trove of memories, insights, and lessons learned along the way. By sharing her personal anecdotes, triumphs, and challenges, she can impart invaluable wisdom that resonates with aspiring artists, seasoned professionals, and enthusiasts alike.

Moreover, her autobiography will serve as a testament to her enduring legacy, ensuring that her remarkable artistic journey is preserved for generations to come. As her disciple and admirer, I’m eager to champion her narrative and encourage her to embark on this meaningful endeavour. It might surely be an opportunity to celebrate her achievements & honour her contributions.

Guiding Light: If I had to encapsulate her essence in a single word, it would be “inspirational.” Over the moon of being alongside her, through her art and her actions, she embodies the spirit of resilience, excellence, and authenticity, serving as a guiding light for all who have the privilege of knowing her. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of perseverance and the profound influence one individual can have on the lives of many. In every sense of the word, she is an inspiration—an embodiment of courage, creativity, and unwavering commitment to her craft.”

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