Song of Surrender

Monday, 3 September 2012

Generation Next

Mythili Prakash

(Reproduced from Sruti 273, July 2007)

When she speaks, her accent is typically American, but when she dances she seems totally Indian. Californian born and bred Bharatanatyam dancer Mythili Prakash has blossomed into a versatile dancer.

Daughter and disciple of Bharatanatyam dancer-teacher Viji Prakash, Mythili was put through her paces at the age of four. Her arangetram (formal debut) at the age of eight was a memorable one as she had the rare opportunity of dancing in the presence of ‘grand-guru-s’ T.K. Mahalingam Pillai and Kalyanasundaram of Sri Rajarajeswari Bharata Natya Kalamandir, Mumbai, who were her mother’s guru-s.


“There was not a time when dance was not an integral part of my life,” says the lithe and lissome dancer who is now in her mid-twenties. Learning, absorbing, and conducting dance classes at her mother’s Shakti School of Dance in Los Angeles, performing solo Bharatanatyam and the lead roles in Shakti’s dance productions, Mythili is now a full time professional dancer.


Close on the heels of her first performance tour in four cities of India in 1991 came the opportunity to perform at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for President R. Venkataraman. Since then she has performed in numerous sabha-s and temple festivals in India, as well as at prestigious venues in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.A.


Growing up in a home filled with the sounds of music and dance, Mythili dabbled for a while in vocal music, mridanga, flute, veena and the violin, but finally focused herself on dance and Carnatic vocal music. Her training in vocal music under Sugandha Kalamegham and Palai Ramachandran has equipped her to relate her dance to the finer nuances of the accompanying music.


Mythili’s training in Modern Dance under Janet Roston and her association with acclaimed theatre groups have helped her hone her choreographic skills and improve her understanding of space. She has participated in several collaborative productions, including a series of performances at the Joyce Theatre on Broadway, New York, for a week in 2002.


After securing a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, she is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently on an extended leave of absence, Mythili has moved to India to polish her dance under the able guidance of stalwarts like C.V. Chandrasekhar and Kalanidhi Narayanan.


Mythili’s dancing is marked by supple grace, firm footwork, athletic agility, light leaps, sure stances, subtle abhinaya, calm confidence, and deep involvement.


In 2006 she produced a DVD titled ‘Natyam… the dance traditional, eternal and evolving…’ featuring some of her solo and ensemble works. She received the Irvine Dance Creation to Performance Grant for her most recent choreographic work Stree Katha—the story of Kaikeyi, Surpanakha and Seeta, three powerful women in the Ramayana.


She is the recipient of the Best Dancer award (Spirit of Youth Festival, Music Academy, 2001), Rohini Krishnan Endowment award (Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, 2006), and has been selected to receive the Vasanthalakshmi-Narasimhachari Talent Promotion award by Natyarangam (Narada Gana Sabha) in August this year.


As she gains in experience and maturity, this sincere and committed dancer can be expected to hold the centrestage for a long time to come.

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