‘Tradition should be dynamic, not museum-bound,’ says Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan

We catch up with the artiste in a free-flowing conversation
In Frame: Rama Vaidyanathan
In Frame: Rama Vaidyanathan

Rama Vaidyanathan has distinguished herself in the Indian classical dance scene as a celebrated bharatanatyam dancer, noted for her pioneering choreography and poignant performances that fuse traditional and contemporary narratives. Her dedication to the art form’s progression and its international promotion is widely acknowledged. We catch up with the artiste in a free-flowing conversation. Excerpts:

Could you describe your path to becoming a classical dancer?

Dance has been a passion I inherited from my mother. She introduced me to my first guru, Yamini Krishnamurthy, at the tender age of six. My training in dance took a new turn when I was 19, under the tutelage of my mother-in-law, guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. The combined influences of both gurus have been instrumental in shaping my distinctive style.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of classical dance and contemporary modifications?

I firmly believe that for tradition to remain vibrant and relevant, it must evolve. Tradition should be dynamic, not static or museum-bound. It’s essential to push boundaries and expand horizons within classical arts. The evolution of dance is not a new concept; it has been intrinsic to the art form since its inception.

Could you elaborate on any specific stylistic changes you’ve introduced to Bharatanatyam?
My stylistic contribution to Bharatanatyam lies in making it more expressive and engaging. It’s vital for me to internalize every aspect of the performance deeply but also to ensure it resonates with the audience. Striking a harmonious balance between visual poetry and emotional expression is at the heart of my approach.

What aspirations do you have for your future in classical dance?
I aspire to continue creating and disseminating the essence of bharatanatyam through innovative dance pieces. Each performance I give holds significance, but performing in Kerala is particularly special to me. I’m from Palakkad. It’s like dancing at home.

As a professional dancer, how do you view initiatives like Pay for Art in supporting artists?
Compensation for artists is crucial for the sustainability of the arts industry. When dance becomes a viable career option financially, it encourages more individuals to pursue their passion professionally. This economic support is pivotal in preserving our cultural legacy, as it enables more dancers to dedicate themselves to the craft full-time.

Also read: Bharatanatyam dancer S Chandhini’s ‘Shakthi: The Goddess’ personifies dance as the Goddess

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