The person who inspired me was Michael Jackson (MJ). This was while I studied martial arts in school. I remember, the school video library would screen an English movie/video every week. Once, they were to show the film, Moonwalker, before which the making and video of Jackson’s Thriller was shown. I was 14/15 years old and was blown away, wanting to switch from the martial arts. After that I would hire the VHS for `25, which would take two to three weeks to raise the amount and thus, see the video. Otherwise, I am self-taught. I also have a tattoo on my hand called MJ.
As a child, I did the usual Bharatanatyam class, but after a while that was abandoned in favour of academics. When I was 15, I came across the memoirs of Protima Gauri Bedi. The manner in which the book told her story about how she took to dance, was inspiring. I was at an impressionable age, and I had always enjoyed dancing. I was not too drawn to the conventional career advice I was getting (being a doctor/ engineer/ lawyer). So, the book gave my life direction, in the process.
Pic courtesy/Debojyoti Dhar
I have been most inspired by everything about life, be it the movements of leaves, breath, water…just life itself. There has never been one role model. However, what has kept me going is my close association with my immediate family as well as my guru Shrimati Kumudini Lakhia. In Ahmedabad, my paternal grandmother acted as the matriarch of the family. So, whenever anyone would meet her, as a five-year- old I would get up on the table and move around. My parents signed me up for dance, music and art lessons. My other guru, Maharaj Birju Maharaj ji also mesmerised me.
Pic courtesy/Dinesh Khanna
Initially, my mother was my inspiration. I knew that I wanted to be a dancer since I was six or seven years old. Second, was my guru Yamini Krishnamurthy who spotted my talent. Third, is my mother-in-law Shrimati Saroja Vaidyanathan who guided me to become a performer, as training alone is insufficient. This is something I felt when I felt most proud of being a dancer when I performed in Russia few years back. I got a standing ovation, which made me feel proud. In the green room, a Russian woman asked me, ‘Your dance is so good; what is your name?’ It’s then when I realised that dance is always bigger than the dancer.
Initially, when I was young, the children of the house used to Jive and Waltz at weddings. When I realised I could move a little more than them, I knew I could dance. Dance fulfilled an emotional need in me of being loved, looked at and admired. It also entertained people, something I liked. Earlier on, I wanted to be a rockstar, as MJ and Madonna were known more as rockstars, and not dancers. Then I watched the film, Westside Story, and it blew my mind. I decided I wanted to be an actor. All this time, whenever I chose something, it had to do with dance. So that was a common factor. My teacher, Pervez Shetty introduced me to the training part, before which I was like Eklavya, learning on my own.
Attend a talk by Gouri Sharma Tripathi at the ongoing Mudra Dance Festival. The Kathak dancer will talk about the balance dancers try to achieve while pursuing motherhood and full-time dance careers simultaneously.
On: Today, 7 pm
At: NCPA, Nariman Point.