By Nandini Ramani
On a pleasant afternoon in November, I was happy to witness some 40 and odd students from Malaysia, dancing a crisp Mallari, in the foyer of the Narada Gana Sabha. They had been trained by Bharatanatyam dancer-teacher Roja Kannan in Chennai for nearly a week. Initiated by Nalini Ratharishnan, Founder-Director of Ratharishnan Bharatanjali, even nine-year olds had come all the way with their teachers to be part of this intensive training programme, which comprised teenagers and some dancers in their twenties and thirties.
As I distributed the certificates to the participants of this training camp, I was touched by the earnest pursuit of these budding dancers, who spent their time and resources to make this trip to learn more about Bharatanatyam. Nalini had organised this project with the objective of providing the youngsters some exposure to other schools of Bharatanatyam in Chennai which is undeniably an important centre of Bharatanatyam. It was a worthwhile attempt as Nalini had chosen to rope in a teacher and senior exponent like Roja Kannan, who is one of the best students of the veteran Guru Adyar K. Lakshman.
It was heart-warming to see the sincere efforts of Nalini Ratharishnan who also joined her students in this camp. The students were happy to have enriched their repertoire and more so that they got an opportunity to perform the items learnt in the city before their departure. The group also learnt a little bit of the dance texts and visited some local schools. It was heartening to see the students attempting to rise to Roja Kannan’s expectations as she had put in a lot of hard work to achieve such a result.