How Delhi youngsters are winning at pursuing Indian classical dance and acing studies
Come April 7, and 17-year-old Radha Sahdev will take to the stage for her Bharatanatyam arangetram (stage debut on completion of formal training), and embark on a new journey as a classical dancer. A science student in her final school year, she is just another Delhi teenager. But what sets her apart is her ardent love for the dance form, which she pursues alongside a busy study schedule comprising school hours, homework, and tuitions.
The strong bond that youngsters like Sahdev share with their gurus, camaraderie with friends, and passion for dance is what makes them different. Yet, like others their age, they take on life, quite artistically. “I have been learning classical dance from the age of four. I like to dance because it has given me so much recognition – both in school and outside,” says Sahdev, adding, “I don’t think I would have managed [to follow my passion] this far if it wasn’t for my mother’s support.” The science student, who is a disciple of Pooja Kapoor, intends to take up architecture as a profession, and calls dance her “passion”.
The month of August will see another Delhi teen, Sawmya Narayanan — a disciple of Padma Shri Geeta Chandran — perform her Bharatanatyam arangetram. “I get up at 5.30 every morning to rehearse Carnatic music for an hour, and then head to school. After school, I complete my school work and attend dance class late in the evening. Then I get back to finish my homework and studies after dinner,” says the 16-year-old humanities student, who plans to pursue a career in Bharatanatyam or Carnatic music.
The same goes for 19-year-old Megha Mohan Das, a disciple of Padma Shri Kanaka Srinivasan. Das performed her arangetram this March. “I’ve been learning the Vazhuvoor bani style of Bharatanatyam since the age of 11. I want to continue learning, to be able to take this legacy forward because I don’t want people to forget it,” says Das.
Despite hectic schedules, these youngsters are thankful for the discipline and passion that dance has instilled in their lives. “It’s rare that my tuition class gets cancelled. But when that happens, I get one free hour. Otherwise, my schedule is jam-packed, yet I continue to dance because of the discipline it has brought in my life,” says Sahdev..
Their friends’ support has made their journey easy. “Time management is a bit difficult. But my friends appreciate my passion and we plan our outings in a way that I don’t miss my rehearsals,” shares Narayanan, crediting her teacher as the reason she truly enjoys dance: ”My guru helps me like a friend.”
“I’m closer to my guru than I am to any other teacher. In fact, she is like a mentor to me, and I can discuss everything with her, including my studies and career choices,” says Das, who is studying journalism, and wants to pursue a PhD in dance.
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