Art for life’s sake: How Kathak became a lifelong companion for Shovana Narayan | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Art for life’s sake: How Kathak became a lifelong companion for Shovana Narayan

Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan, who recently presented a dance show of her students in Delhi, talks about her journey — from learning dance at the age of three to becoming a Kathak guru.

art and culture Updated: May 04, 2017 16:51 IST
Etti Bali
Shovana Narayan
Shovana Narayan with her first student, Shruti Gupta Chandra.(Prabhas Roy/HT)

Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan began learning Indian classical dance at the age of three. She recalls, “Other kids used to run away, but I told her [her guru] I want to dance.” Even during her students’ recitals, she can’t stop herself from immersing in the experience. A count here, or a clink of the manjeera there, she does all this from the wings. On Tuesday, we caught up with the Kathak guru at her dance school’s annual show titled Rhythm and Joy, where 60 of her students were performing.

“I have been celebrating World Dance Day (29 April), not from today, but even before it became world dance day. I have been doing this show since 1982-83,” she says. From learning dance to becoming a guru, the journey has been rewarding. “My first student came to me in 1972 and teaching became a lifelong thing,” she adds.

Students during a performance. (Prabhas Roy/HT)

Her dance school, Asavari was established in 1979, has been breeding dancers for decades. Some of her students have went to start their own dance schools in India and abroad. About the annual show of her school, she says, “Everything changes every year [at these performances]. It depends on what the groups want to do. But you can’t have all solos or all duets in one go. So, you space out to create something visually different. Some of these sequences are exercises in pranayama (a practice that involves controlling breath),” she informs.

She feels classical dance and music are “extremely important” for the development of a child’s personality. “In our conventional system of education, performing arts were an integral part. My girls are learning the Indian philosophy to co-relate it in today’s terms. They are also learning how social history developed. Then there’s mathematics — when we give a beat and tell them to go into the fraction of the beat,” she adds.

“Classical music and dance were given a very high priority and status in Indian philosophy. It gives you an ananda (bliss) that lingers on, like incense in a room,” she concludes.