Rama Vaidyanathan speaks about being the new convenor of Krishna Gana Sabha’s Natya Kala Conference
After over three decades of perfecting her skills in bharatanatyam, while infusing her fresh approach to the art form, Rama Vaidyanathan is still breaking new ground for herself. This time around, she has been confirmed as the convenor of the latest edition of Krishna Gana Sabha’s Natya Kala Conference for the first time ever, which promises a line-up of stellar performances by a number of accomplished performing artistes. One of the largest conferences in Indian dance, the theme of the event this year is, ‘Nirikshana — Bharatnatyam: Under the Magnifying Glass’, and will see over 65 artistes and speakers from around the world present their viewpoints through lectures, performances and panel discussions. Ahead of the five-day event, we caught up with Rama to get her thoughts on the fest, and the evolution of classical dance over the years. Excerpts:
How excited are you to be convening the Natya Kala Conference this year?
I am extremely honoured and feel very privileged that I am carrying the baton of the 39-year-old legacy of the Krishna Gana Sabha.
Tell us more about your new solo choreography for the season.
My solo choreography is a margam that’s based largely on Lord Kartikeya or Murugan. I have challenged myself to explore stories and compositions that I usually don’t explore. I chose these themes because I don’t want to make myself predictable.
What have been your high points in the history of the Natya Kala Conference over the years?
There are many. When I was invited to present a lecture-demonstration at the conference 15 years ago, it was a dream come true for me. Even then I never imagined I would convene it one day!
What are your thoughts on the evolution of classical dance in Chennai?
Chennai is the epicentre of bharatanatyam and I look forward to being here every year during the Margazhi season. Over the years, I’ve seen the December-January season grow, and it is one of the world’s largest performing art festivals.
How important is it to find one’s own signature style while pursuing a career in classical dance? How tough is to strike a balance between improvisation and tradition?
It is very important for a dancer to graduate from being a dancer to being an artiste. And that happens when you have the strength of conviction in what you do. You make an individualistic statement through your art. And, I feel that dance is all about maintaining the right balance in every aspect.
Chennai is seeing a spurt of fusion movement shows over the past few years, those that blend elements from classical dance with contemporary movement. Your thoughts?
I don’t think we can stop any kind of artistic voices. They all have to be expressed, heard and seen. It is important for the evolution of the dance form because tradition is never static.
What is some of the key advice that you would give any aspiring classical dancer today? Also, what are the psychological and physical benefits of being a classical dancer?
Hard work, patience and belief in yourself are what I would tell the younger generation. I think dance makes you a person who enjoys the aesthetics of life more. It gives you the sensibility and the sensitivity to appreciate anything beautiful. It gives you grace — both inside and outside.
December 26-30. At Krishna Gana Sabha. Entry to the conference at `500. Tickets available at Townscript and at the venue.