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Dance gives a purpose to life, feels Vanishree Ravishankar
A disciple of Smt. Savithri Jagannatha Rao, she is a performer-cum-teacher. Dance is her passion. This art form gives her a sense of fulfillment. And, it has given a fresh meaning to her life. Vanishree Ravishankar talks to on her `dancing’ expedition.

How long have you been learning dance?
I have been learning for 27 years.

Who is your dance guru?
My first guru was late M. Janardhan from Kalanikethan in Mangalore (Karnataka). I learnt from him for eight years. I came over to Chennai in 1989 to pursue dance and joined "Pradakshina", a dance school run by Smt. Savithri Jagannatha Rao. I am still with her. I also learn abhinaya from Smt. Bragha Bessel.

What has been your experience learning from your guru?
When I came over to Chennai, I had to change my style of dance completely as Smt. Savithri Jagannatha Rao is from Kalakshethra. She was very patient during the entire difficult process of changing my style. She is a perfectionist, which helped me to master this art form. She teaches without holding back. She has always encouraged me in developing my creativity. Her method of one-to-one interaction and total involvement has given me a fulfilling experience while learning dance under her.

Why do you learn dance?
I was attracted to dance right from my childhood and it is my passion. It is in my blood.

Are you also learning vocal music?
Yes, I was learning from my mother Smt. Jayalakshmi Ramesh and also from late Padma Narayanaswamy after I came over to Chennai. I would like to continue to learn vocal music.

How do you strike a balance between your dance and family life?
Of course, it is difficult. With the support of my husband, Shri M. Ravishankar, I am able to manage. He has been a pillar of support in pursuing dance.

How does it (learning dance) help you in day-to-day life?
As it is my passion, I feel fulfilled. And, it gives me a purpose to my life.

Are you learning it as a hobby?
I am a full-time dancer. I give performances. I also teach.

Learning dance – has it helped you to change your personality?
Yes, as a performer and teacher, dance has helped me to develop self-confidence.

What is your aim as dancer?
My aim is not only to perform but also to teach.

What it takes to be a perfectionist-dancer?
Hard work is needed to attain perfection.

Do you think that dance gets adequate support from the society at large?
No. Though it is our nation's original art form, the dancers have to spend through their nose, especially while giving performances. Neighbours co-operation is not always forthcoming while attempting to practice or teach.

Why does dance (bharatha natyam) remain an elitist art form?
Obviously because it does not receive the support from all sections of our society, unlike the vulgar forms of modern cinema and TV reality shows for which hundreds of crores of rupees are spent. Here, the dancer has to bear all the expenditure.

Ravi Malur -
Nice but too short an interview. There are quiet a few points which really make a difference for people who have been shunting the ancient form of Bharathanatyam. The last two questions and answers seem up to the mark and should be put up in a public forum for debate.

Raghuram -
Short but sweet interview.The wonderful art forms of our country will surely continue to reach new heights with the efforts of artistes like Vani. Nothing can polute the evergreen traditional arts of our great country.

Asha -
The reason that Bharatanatyam, and, in particular the non-vulgar Bharatanatyam, is so rarely on TV is very simple: While TV is a mass media, Bharatanatyam has never been s part of the mass culture unlike folk & pop dance.

Usha -
Hi, Great article. I am proud of you. Looking forward for more performance. All the best.

Rajeswari Srinivasan -
The Interview brings forth very clearly the ardent and genuine 'passion' Vani has for "Natyam"! We totally agree with what she says regarding cine, TV dances & realty shows. Why cant they have a 'Censor Board' for TV?

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