The average number of applicants for the Civil Services Examinations in India is 4.56lakh each year (source: civilserviceindia.com). Kavitha Ramu (41) was one of these applicants in 2002 when she cleared the examination for the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
What’s special about that? The same year, Ramu was also busy making a mark as a Bharatanatyam dancer. Amid the painstaking preparation one needs to clear the Civil Services, Ramu also flew to USA and Canada to play the lead role of Annamayya, a critically acclaimed Bharatanatyam recital, choreographed by noted dancer Dr M Balamuralikrishna. She brought to life the character of the female protagonist. Ramu has even toured Japan and presented a solo Bharatanatyam recital at the Mithila Museum, Niigata (Japan).
“I started learning Bharatanatyam when I was four. To be able to continue with my passion despite the professional requirements has been an incredible journey,” says the Chennai-based dancer, who will perform in Mumbai this weekend.
The discipline of dance
Born in the temple city of Madurai, Ramu attended Bharatnatyam classes close to her house on her mother’s insistence. When she was 10, Ramu met KJ Sarasa, a legendary Bharatanatyam dancer credited with the development of the Vazhuvoor style — a style of Bharatanatyam that emphasises on the theatrical aspect of dance and incorporates sitting positions. Ramu trained under Sarasa for 15 years.
How, then, did the idea of civil services come about? “It was a family decision. My dad is an IAS officer and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. To be honest, balancing the two hasn’t been tough. They are both important aspects of my life and they feed off each other. My professional life has taught me discipline, while dance enables me to manage my stress,” says Ramu.
A poetic flow
Her upcoming performance at the NCPA has Ramu excited. “I have always wanted to perform here. It is an honour to finally get the opportunity,” she says. This being her premiering performance, Ramu has drawn inspiration from her favourite Tamil poems that describe the romance of the monsoon. Titled Kadhambam, which is Tamil for a garland, Ramu will use the metaphor to string her favourite poems into an hour-long performance.
The idea to translate poems into a dance routine is what attracted her to this pursuit. “It is fascinating to see how the rhythmic strength of a poem lends itself to music and dance. As an artist, you need to visualise the poems as you read them. The actual choreography is the easy part,” she says.
Kadhambam — A Poetic Melange will open on July 16, at 7pm
Where: Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point; Call: 3989 5050; Entry: Free