When you close your eyes and think of Dr. Vyshnavie Sainath, the picture that comes to one’s mind is that of Goddess Lalitha Devi, when she along with her mother and dance guru, Dr. Rajeswari Sainath, presented ‘Lalitha Sahasranamam’ in the heart of the city and she breathed life into the character. She as Goddess Lalitha Devi on stage left many speechless and mesmerised. With the Navaratris set to begin from October 7, Natyahasini catches up with multi-talented dancer Dr. Vyshnavie Sainath, who acknowledges that she too was in a trance after she performed the Goddess character. “But I was very happy to have done my share of justice in portraying the Devi’s character,” she says. Also, Vyshnavie portrayed the role of Goddess Padmavati in the telefilm ‘Amukthamalya’ produced by SVBC.
In the mythological ballets that left the Rasikas spellbound include ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’, ‘Sai Baba’ and ‘Abhangs’. “I really like thematic ballets which I’ve been a part of – with my special connect to doing the role of Lalitha Devi in ‘Lalitha Sahasranamam’, Vishnu in ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’ and of course as Pandurangan in ‘Abhangs’,” says the Bharatanatyam dancer.
Educating Audiences: Apart from mythological ballets, Dr. Vyshnavie Sainath has also focused on social themes to educate the audiences through the medium of art. She has brought awareness on issues like AIDS, Women Empowerment, Environment, Organ Donation, Khadi and Clean Ganga. “I feel that’s my contribution to society in raising awareness. And I really enjoy doing them to my best ability,” she says. She adds: “I see and integrate everything into a single aspect as dance, Kalari-yoga, fitness, and social issues in and around these are what I’d like to give back to society. Since I consider everything falling under an umbrella, I make time to do them as a responsibility.”
Vyshnavie, who is an empanelled artist of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Grade A artist of Doordarshan, is a unique dancer who is an expert in performing five styles of dance. She learnt Bharatanatyam from her mother and Guru, Dr. Rajeswari Sainath, Kuchipudi from Guru Vedantam Satya Narasimha Sastry, Odissi from Guru Durga Charan Ranbir in Bhubaneswar and Kalaripayattu from Vallabhatta School of Kalari in Chavakkad in Kerala and Contemporary Dance Forms from Attakalari in Bangalore and Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York. She is also trained in the art of Simhanandini – the drawing of the picture of a lion through her feet. On practicing the various dance forms, the dancer says: “It’s not about practicing everything every day. I try to entwine all that I have learned into my performance or practice. It also depends on what’s coming up next for me. I practice accordingly.” She says that she loves to dance. “What form of it really doesn’t matter, but as I have my roots in Bharatanatyam, I have a natural inclination towards the classical arts,” says the dimpled dancer.
Acted In French Movie: On entering films, Vyshnavie says: “Well, I did a French movie produced by Bernard Bloch and a Telugu devotional serial called ‘Amuktamaalya’ wherein I portrayed the role of Goddess Padmavathi. Although I enjoyed doing them, dance is totally my kind of thing professionally.” In 2019, at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival (USA), Vyshnavie had the wonderful opportunity to perform a jugalbandi along with the Kathak Legend Pandit Birju Maharaj and Sashwathi Sen.
The dancer has beautifully managed academics and dance. A Post Graduate (D) in Human Resource and Diploma Holder in Theatre Arts, Masters in Bharatanatyam, Vyshnavie recently earned her Doctorate in dance on the topic- Indian Classical Dance & Globalisation from IIM, Bangalore. She founded the Vyshnavie Natya Centre in Hyderabad where she trains students from five years to 65 years in Bharatanatyam and Kalaripayattu. “Till date around 12 students have performed their Aarangetram from VNC,” she says.
Mom’s Strictness Pays Off: Vyshnavie says that while growing up, her mom was a very strict teacher. “But I am enjoying the fruits of that strictness now as a dancer. Even now she’s my go-to, as she has seen life and carries a lot of experience as a dancer,” says the proud daughter.
Prodded, why not sports as a career option, Vyshnavie says: “My dad was a cricketer. It was definitely a career option for me as a young adult, but I think the inclination came very naturally towards dance, I was very happy dancing, having said that I’m also into sports. I am a marathon runner and a vivid trekker, I summitted the highest peak in India – Stok Kangri on the Himalayan mountains, in my first attempt.” She confesses that she totally missed trekking and marathon during the pandemic. “These are my stressbusters, but it was important for all of us to stay home during this period without a second thought, so I’ve only kept myself busy working on my dance and connecting with people from all over the globe,” says the mountain conqueror.
Managing so many activities in a day, Vyshnavie wishes she really had more time. “I think efficiency here plays a major role in keeping up with everything, majorly to maximize time,” she says.
Future Plans: Disclosing future plans, the Bharatanatyam dancer says that she is working on developing a new venture called VNC Artha which is an e-learning platform where they will collaborate with multiple people to integrate traditional performing arts on a digital platform with maestros across different fields like Dr. Rajeswari Sainath and Guru Karaikudi Mani, which will be useful to beginners to full-time practitioners. “And our first module is already out on our VNC Artha platform. We are soon coming up with a lot more modules and content on that platform for reworking, and expanding their vocabulary in dance,” she says. The dancer also reveals that she is busy bringing out the integrated modules pertaining to classical arts, kalariyoga and related activities. “I’m also looking at collaborating and connecting with a lot more people globally,” says Vyshnavie Sainath.