Vamsi Madhavi’s Kalakshetra Experience Plays Pivotal Role

Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer Vamsi Madhavi has travelled across the length and breadth of the country, thanks to her father D Ganesh Kumar’s transferable job. This gave her an opportunity to learn Dance and Music, with a little push from her author mother D Sathyavani. In an exclusive chat with Natyahasini, looking back at her two-decades of dancing journey, Vamsi Madhavi acknowledges that it has been constant learning in every phase. “Any Art form is like an ocean, the more you delve in it, the more you realise the depth and its vastness. Taking it up in your own pace, in your own comfort even if they are tiny steps and yet not giving up in one’s pursuit is crucial. I am grateful for the training and the exposure I had in Rajahmundry and later in Kalakshetra, where we literally   devoted all our time in our training,” she says. 

Madhavi states that making Hyderabad her home after entering into wedlock with GVS Brahman, she missed being in Chennai and the atmosphere it resonated. The dancer states that it took some time to settle down here in Hyderabad and with time, she resumed her practice and also took up teaching. “I think a lot more factors shape an Artist’s journey – the right place, the ambiance, the guidance, one’s own individual pursuit and commitment. I am more relaxed and take the pleasure in understanding the form, while teaching the students and practicing it in my own pace and space,” she says.

Mother, Strong Supporter: The multi-talented dancer confesses that her mother had a very strong influence in initiating her into Dance and Music in her childhood. “My mother is a very passionate lover of Music and Dance. She being a writer is very sensitive to the nuances of such Art forms. My Father worked for ONGC and was transferred to different locations all over India. My initial years of schooling and my training in Kuchipudi Dance started in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, under Sri Hemadri Chidambara Dikshitulu garu, who hails from Kuchipudi Village,” the artist states. 

Remembering about her first guru, the versatile dancer says: “Sri Hemadri Chidambara Dikshitulu garu was a very dedicated Guru, who patiently taught all of us and gave the initial exposure. I was around eight years old, when I was taken to sir. I was always fond of dance and any kind of rhythm always attracted me. Also, I was fascinated by the form. The lilting nature of the style and form of Kuchipudi which has an innate rhythm and pace had sustained my interest.” She says that Dikishitulu garu was a very simple, sincere and dedicated teacher. 

New Place, New Art Form: After learning Kuchipudi for almost eight years in Rajahmundry, Madhavi moved to Gujarat after her father’s transfer. On switching to Bharatanatyam after moving to Gujarat, Madhavi says that she had intended to continue her training in Kuchipudi but took up a new form, Bharatanatyam because the style of Kuchipudi dance form was different there. “We felt it would be better to start learning a new form instead. We approached CV Chandrasekhar sir, who guided me to train under his senior-most disciple, Smt. Rama Shrikanth, who was running her own institution in Baroda,” she says.

Madhavi agrees that it was very interesting and great learning phase in Baroda. “Having learnt the basics of a particular form, I could take up the new dance form of Bharatanatyam with ease and with similar passion. I was fortunate to get introduced to CV sir and Rama ma’am, who not only taught me the form of Bharatanatyam, but also gave me ample opportunities in taking part in their productions on the basis of my training in Kuchipudi,” she says and adds: “Every year, they used to choreograph thematic productions where we all had a huge scope to learn and absorb the nuances and intricacies of the presentations. it was a great learning experience under them.”

Kalakshetra, Key Factor: The Hyderabad-based dancer, who had been training both in Classical Dance and Carnatic Music, since childhood, moved to Kalakshetra, Madras, on the advice of Chandrasekhar sir, as she had made-up her mind to pursue a career in Dance. “Kalakshetra being a very premier institute which provides holistic training was an apt choice at that point of time for further learning. It had a structured format for training, the right ambience and great lineage to offer,” she says. The dancer further says that the training in Kalakshetra was quite vigorous and opened up many new dimensions of aspects of the dance form as she took part in the theatre productions and got to observe varied styles of performances during the Arts Festival held annually at the premises. “The dance dramas and solo performances paved the path to make dance my profession,” Madhavi says.

The dancer who any day loves to present the traditional Bharatanatyam Margam explains, “Fusion is exciting, it’s like an instant coffee…. it would be fun but I do not feel it would touch you or create an impact on you like a classical Margam which can take you through a. journey and leave you with a thought.” Madhavi says that her favourite place of performance any day would be the dais – the Koothambalam of Kalakshetra where she has given some memorable performances. In Hyderabad, she enjoys performing both at Saptaparni and Ravindra Bharathi.  

Both Kids Into Dance & Music: The artist states that every composition has its own flavour. “Though it is never easy to pick a particular piece, I have always enjoyed performing Huseini Swarajathi, a choreography of Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale,” she says. Madhavi, who is currently teaching the art form in Karnataka Sahitya Mandir, currently has around 20 students, including her daughters Mahati and Sahasra. “My daughters are learning the Art form, they also have an innate sense of Rhythm and a good understanding. My elder daughter Mahati is very keen to pursue her training in classical music in both Carnatic and Hindustani format. Both my daughters Mahati and Sahasra are into Dance and Music,” she says.

According to the dancer, some of her students are just entering the intermediate phase and will be ready to perform Arangetram in the near future. She opines that she is not very keen on sending her students for dance certifications unless they personally insist on it. Coming to herself, Madhavi has plans to pursue Ph.D. in Dance, though she confesses that it would have been ideal to immediately pursue academics after her training at Kalakshetra. 

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