P B Vaishnavi is a blessed soul to be born in a household, where dance and music run in their genes. Speaking to Natyahasini, Vaishnavi says that Dance and Music are in her family and she grew up in an atmosphere that these art forms are part and parcel of life. “Although, my mother isn’t a dancer or a musician, it was with her interest that I started learning dance with my aunt (Pedamma) Smt. P B Krishna Bharathi and music from my uncle, (Mama) Dr. S K Venkatachary and Veena from Smt. Padmasini Rangaswamy,” she says. The dancer musician says that as a child she was playful and not very interested, but it was her mother’s grit and gurus’ encouragement that she continued to pursue and develop interest in these art forms.
Vaishnavi says that it is always a privilege for anyone to learn art forms from family members as it benefits them more in terms of gaining knowledge and spending more time with the art forms, and she was no less. “As we used to commute together to classes, I always had an advantage to sit back after my classes and watch my pedamma/periamma groom the seniors of our academy during the initial stages of learning. This created more awareness and mindfulness to my dance,” she states.
The dancer admits that though her Guru is related, she has always treated her no different from other students. “I get the same share of appreciation and corrections like any other student both in learning the form and to acquire discipline and etiquette. Anything that is concerned to the dance field, we have made sure to draw a clear line to maintain the Guru – Sishya relation and hence, this is one of the prime reasons that I always addressed her as my guru only and not as a family member,” Vaishnavi clarifies. She says that her journey in dance started as an empty canvas where her guru filled it with vibrant colours that it turned out to be a beautiful art so far, and for this she is forever grateful to her.
Deep Admiration: Vaishnavi says that as a young student she always had a deep admiration for late Sobha Naidu garu. “I started performing with Sobha Naidu ma’am from a young age. At that point, although I was performing with her group with immense respect to my grand guru, I was equally ignorant about the grandeur and magnificence of her art. Only after I grew up as a full-time dancer, I realised that I was fortunate to be included in her group and from then, I started observing and learnt a lot of nuances to improve my dancing,” she says.
The dancer musician says that Sobha Naidu garu’s love towards the art form was not only limited to the stage as a performer but also reflected a ton times in the classroom setting. “She used to get more enthused than the student to teach them the nuances of a character, where she herself danced each and every bit and made sure the students observe and reflect through them,” says Vaishnavi.
She shares that her last performance with Sobha Naidu ma’am was in Vizag in January 2020, where they were performing ‘Srinivasa Kalyanam’ dance drama. “I was given a role of Akasa Raju (Padmavati’s Father) and Ma’am portrayed as Padamavati. In the last scene of this dance drama, there was a very short span of time, where I make my exit and ma’am makes entry. By this time, she was almost tired, yet made sure to correct me right away. She quickly pulled me into the wings and advised me about my glances as Akasa Raju (A King, A Father, A Male Character). I was amazed by her observation and equally blessed to get such guidance from the legend,” remembers the young artist.
Not following the path taken by her cousin sister Pallavi, in spite of joining MPC at Chaitanya, Vaishnavi stayed away from writing EAMCET exams and after completing Intermediate pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics. She chucked her campus placement to pursue Masters in Dance and is currently pursuing a doctorate from University of Hyderabad. She passed her Kuchipudi Certificate from PS Telugu University as a private candidate.