The sound of the thalam struck on the wooden block rekindles the time spent at Nalanda Dance Research Centre in Juhu as a student.
Under the tutelage of its founder Kanak Rele, the discipline of the institute, which turns 50 this year, has remained in tact.
But much has changed, like the gym on the ground floor that is used by dancers, both teachers and students, to workout before dance practice for the day begins.
Vaibhav Arekar, Madhuri Deshmukh and Saji Menon will do solo pieces on Eklavya, Draupadi and Ambaa at A-neeti. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Rele launched a dance school that would offer a diploma and degree course, backed by a strong practical and theory syllabus, in 1966. “Until then, only children with rich parents could afford a dance teacher. I wanted to change that,” says the 77-year-old.
With an education in law, Rele asked herself one question before deciding her career path. ‘Can I live without dance?’ One can guess the answer.
Kanak Rele's granddaughter Vaidehi
Rele is presently busy with the institute’s upcoming Nrityosava on January 15, 16, and 18, which offers a stage to young talent from across the country to perform. For the first time, her granddaughter, Vaidehi, will take this stage. A law student like her grandmother, choosing Bharatanatyam was an obvious choice. “I started dancing at the age of three.
I studied law so it would help me take the legacy of this institution forward. I have to prove myself at every point, as the classical dance circle is unforgiving. But I am up for the challenge,” says the 25-year-old. Her mother and current principal, 47-year-old Uma Rele, will play four of the eight asthanayikas (eight types of heroines recognised in the Natya Shastra) on January 17, when teachers and senior students of Nalanda will perform, A-Neeti, choreographed by Kanak Rele.
Where: Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi
When: January 15-18, 6 pm