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Putting her foot down

Rubiya Alavikutty started dancing when she was three years old. Her father, a theatre artist, spotted his daughter’s talent early and encouraged her whole-heartedly.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2009 01:26 IST
Ramesh Babu

Rubiya Alavikutty started dancing when she was three years old. Her father, a theatre artist, spotted his daughter’s talent early and encouraged her whole-heartedly. The family did not always have enough money but her teachers taught her free of cost and well-wishers pooled in to meet her expenses. She also performed at temple festivals to bring in money.

For several years she topped district-level dance competitions and in 2006, collected prizes in Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kerala Natanam and folk dance in a state youth festival.

However, conservative members of her community in the village of Valluvambaram in Muslim-dominated Malappu-ram district disapproved. They literally ostracised her and her family for years together.

When her mother was ailing with cancer, for instance, her father requested the local committee for a certificate to seek help from some good Samaritans in the Gulf. But he was refused the certificate.

The dancer, now 18 and pursuing her dance studies at the Kalai Kaveri Fine Arts College in Tiruchirappally, Tamil Nadu, says that whenever she returns home, “Local community members keep a safe distance. And they never allow young girls to mingle with me.”

But Alavikutty, who has danced in some 75 temples in Kerala, refuses to untie her anklets. “Dance is my life. When I pay obeisance through various mudras I am imploring not just the Hindu gods but the supreme creator, whom we call by different names,” she says, with a maturity that belies her years.

“It is a hand-to-mouth existence for my family. But I want to be a good dancer one day and I will achieve my aim come what may,” she declares. In fact, the feisty young girl has vowed to give dance lessons to girls from her community once she finishes college. Her anklets, she says, will always sing.