Karnataka’s Bal Puraskar awardee: Never forget the richness of Indian culture
Having received the coveted Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2022, young Bharatanatyam dancer Remona Evette Pereira has added this to her wall of fame, which displays hundreds of other trophies and mementos. But as the 16-year-old looks at this new accolade that’s now added to her home in Mangaluru (Karnataka), she chuckles thinking where to keep the next one coming her way!
“Two-three bags full of awards are in the store room,” she says sharing that this Bal Puraskar medal will be displayed right in the front. Speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi via virtual teleconferencing was a “precious” moment for this young achiever, who shares: “From the South (of India), it was only me he spoke to. I was very nervous and scared about what he’d ask and what I’d answer. We spoke in Hindi, and he ask me what inspired me to continue my dance practice and if I faced any fear while using props like fire or while dancing on broken glass pieces... Yes, I often do get hurt while using these props. But I trust my mom because she first tries all of them — though she isn’t classically trained — and then only gives them to me to perform.”
Her awards narrate her 13 year journey, which started with her training in classical when she was just three. “My dad passed away before I was born. So it has been hard for me and my family. I remember I was just three-years-old, and didn’t have any idea about dance. But my mother was very passionate about dance, and wanted to learn herself but couldn’t get the opportunity in her time. Many parents play rhymes for children on the TV, but my mother used to show me Bharatanatyam CDs. She wanted to see if I show any interest in it, and luckily I did! That’s when she enrolled me in a dance class,” recalls Pereira, who is learning Bharatanatyam under guru Shrividya Muralidhar.
In the first year of her studies at Nanthoor Padua PU College, the support she has received from her teachers and college has made her more passionate about this art form. “Juggling education and dance is hard. But it all comes down to how you manage your time. I’ve to take a lot of leaves, but I often get provided with individual classes for whatever I miss, and that keeps me going,” she adds.
Over time, the young artiste has learned to look at the bright side of things, and doesn’t fail to thank the pandemic for the extra practice time it allowed her. “On one hand while it was terrible because our education almost stopped and we faced financial hardship. But for dance, it provided very useful moments because I got more time to focus, learn and practice. Also, there were many interesting online programs from where I learned a lot,” she informs while being still in disbelief about “receiving such a big honour”.
And she rues how Indian classical dance and music are still less popular vis a vis the western forms. “Though I’m also a western dancer, I dedicate myself to Indian classical arts because I love it. I don’t want anyone to forget our Indian culture and the richness of it. That’s something I hope to do with my dance practice,” she says, adding that once she grows up, she wants to teach the “richness of our classical art” to youngsters from economically weaker sections.
Author tweets @siddhijainn