Age is not a factor in learning, proves Bharatanatyam dancer, Dr. Himabindu Uppari. A spark ignited at the age of 20 years, and Himabindu enrolled in the Temple of Dance – Rukmini Devi Arundale’s Kalakshetra in Chennai and began learning the ancient art form. Speaking to Natyahasini, Dr. Himabindu says that unknowingly she was pulled into this field. “Then I realised that it was my destiny and continued sincerely. Then onwards everything was a right choice … Kalakshetra, University of Hyderabad, and PS Telugu University,” says the dancer. She says that she is blessed to be in the lineage of dance legendaries and it is going on. “I am happy and blessed to be in this creative art world,” acknowledges Himabindu.
Delving further into her studies at the Kalakshetra, the Bharatanatyam dancer says that she was fortunate enough to study in Kalakshetra, temple of fine arts. “It is a great experience to learn under great stalwarts. My Gurus in Kalakshetra – Sri Janardhanan, Smt. Shaly Vijayan, and Smt. Nandini Nagaraj,” she says.
On motivation to become academically strong, Himabindu gives credit to the academic institutions where she studied that provided her rich knowledge to pursue dance career and academic research as well. “Gurus and teachers have engraved my skills and abilities in the journey,” Himabindu says.
Kuravanji Literature Study: Apart from pursuing MPA (Master of Performing Arts) and Ph.D. from University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, this Bharatanatyam dancer is armed with an M. Phil. in Folk Arts from PS Telugu University. Himabindu says that during her Kalakshetra days, she witnessed Kuravanji dance dramas, which drove her to pursue M.Phil. in Folk Arts. “Kuravanji dance dramas have vital performance scope in Bharatanatyam, many themes and dance dramas are choreographed based on the Kuravanji literature. This inspired me to work on the Kuravanji art form. My research work explored its origin and performances as dance dramas in Bharatanatyam,” the Kalakshetra alumnus says.
Spelling out her Ph.D. research topic – “Bharatanatyam in Diaspora-Under the scope of the United Kingdom”, the main findings in the research work related to Bharatanatyam in Diaspora create a ground to discover all that is worthwhile in connection with it. “The research work describes the contribution by different artists in the field of Bharatanatyam in Diaspora in the United Kingdom, states their findings and challenges and therefore the significant results that encapsulate the common understandings about the art field,” she says. The artist further says that the need to serve or cater to a given purpose and context opens up the possibility of rediscovering one’s potential in a creative format. “This has led to the shaping of individual creative identities as artists,” she says.
Subject of Study: Himabindu states that her thesis has made an earnest endeavour to study the trends, influence and impact in Bharatanatyam, during the period 1970 to 2012 mainly by studying major artists and their contributions, and their ability to expand the circumference of Bharatanatyam to embrace other human activities. “However, the scope of this thesis excluded many younger generation Bharatanatyam dancers who were contributing to the field with their creativity and innovation. Future studies may throw light on these areas,” says the assistant professor.
The Bharatanatyam dancer says that as an artist there is a tremendous social responsibility not to create an evil impact on human mind. “The appreciation of art begins with a quality of appreciating anything beautiful. Art conceived for social welfare or self-expression is subjective, but the artist’s journey is always connected with the audience. Wherever, however and in whatever forms it is presented,” says Himabindu.
Speaking about her nature of work at Department of Music & Fine Arts, Sri Padmavathi Mahila Visvavidyalayam (Women’s University), Tirupati, Himabindu says that she teaches Master students and guides Ph.D. research scholars – methodological approaches to Bharatanatyam. “Along with teaching, I organise seminars, workshops by following UGC norms and CBCB system. Apart from teaching, I am assigned few administration responsibilities like Cultural Coordinator, Coordinator for Dance Course of International Relations and member at various committees,” she says.
Applauds Education Policy: Clarifying on what she enjoys – teaching or performing, Himabindu says: “Performance activates the inner soul of a performer, leads to self-satisfaction and reorganisation in the fraternity.” She refuses to take up dance choreography in films, but applauds the Education Policy, which has opened up new opportunities for art studies. “I hope the present generation will accomplish such opportunities,” says the dance professor.
Dr. Himabindu says that today’s students are very much aware of the opportunities in the field for pursuing dance as a career. “Institutions and Universities have given scope to such students by providing scholarships and fellowships. The pandemic has given an opportunity to vent and find online platforms for teaching, learning and performance. The integration of Technology in education leads to new futuristic and optimistic journey in the field of dance,” beautifully sums up the beautiful Bharatanatyam dancer.