The transformation of French national Anne Chaymotty — born, raised and educated in Paris — to Devayani, a devout Bharatnatyam exponent, is a tribute to the majesty of the Indian classical dancing tradition.
A postgraduate in English and French literature from Sorborne University, Devayani prefers to be addressed by her Indian name only, as it reflects her love, expertise and association with the celestial art.
In her formative years she was nurtured in classical ballet at the Schola Cantorum in Paris before she learnt Bharatnatyam under Indo-France cultural exchange programme under the tutelage of K G Ellapa Mudaliar in Chennai and Kalaimamani V S Muthuswamy Pillai.
In city for a performance at the 43rd Pracheen Kala Kendra Nritya and Sangeet Sammelan on Friday, the Padma Shri recipient shares, “Like any inquisitive young artist venturing to explore new dimensions in art, especially in dancing, I was looking for a complete art form with universal appeal. I discovered that Bharatnatyam had a perfect grammar with a variety of improvisations in mime, sculpturous mudras, myriad expressions, varied tal patterns and footwork.”
“I couldn’t help but submit to the charms of its grandeour,” says Devayani with a sense of pride.
“Bharatnatyam, though earlier rigid in code, has a fair amount of elasticity in grammar. I can feel all thecompositions I execute as living beings, a part of my body and soul, I live with them,” says the artiste.
When asked how she imbibes the essence of compositions of Indian classical dances, which are always based on legends of Indian mythological gods, she is quick to reply, “Through the language of dance. Also, I have studied the poetry of Tagore, Surdas, Kalidas and even Omar Khayam. I do not mind seeking clarifications on petty issues; I always bothered a fellow disciple, Lalitha, during my training.”