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Dance is my bread and butter, says Vijay Madhavan
He is a talented dancer. He is also a well-known choreographer. He has been cast in several of his guru’s thematic productions. The winner of Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari Endowment Award, he has also landed titles such as Yuva Kala Bharathi and Nrutya Kala Bharathi. Recently, he has been honoured with T. Balasaraswathi Endowment Award by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. Vijay Madhavan was in the cast of the famous patriotic song “Senthamizh Naadu”, a popular rendition of Chitra and Srinivas in the curtain raiser of Jaya TV. He has been an integral part of the ritualistic tradition of the Bhagavatha Melam of Melattur and still continues to perform annually. He recently quit his lucrative job in IT (information technology) to focus on dance. He started Rechita Nruthyalaya with the blessings of his guru Smt. Chitra Visweswaran on Vijayadasami Day in 1996. Here in this chat, he opens up his mind and heart to www.carnaticdarbar.com

Since when have you been learning dance?
I have been learning dance ever since I was in primary school. I am told by my parents that I had an innate liking for dance.

What kind of dance have you learnt?
I was formally trained in the art form of Bharathanatyam.

Who is your dance guru? A few lines about your guru and the things you have learnt from your guru?
My guru is Smt.Chitra Visweswaran. Her name is synonymous with this art form. She has been awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India. She and her husband Mr. Visweswaran made an amazing pair in the art circuit. Viswes uncle was a versatile musician and well known for his humour and wittiness that could ease you in any walk of life. They always longed for perfection, observed aesthetic and believed in organic growth.

When did you start presenting concerts? Can you share your experience of some of the special and challenging roles you have presented?
I started presenting concerts at a young age, with the advantage of being with a guru of mine.

In fact, I have presented a performance with Shri. Kelucharan Mahopatra, something that would have been impossible for any dancer of my generation to even dream of. We presented various religions of our country, and with Kelu babu as the Christ and me as a humble devotee of his. I was given the best dancer award in Indian Fine Arts Society by Vidushi Smt.Vedavalli. Being an active participant in the Bhagavatha mela tradition for more than two decades, I have had the opportunity to present this art form before many luminaries.

The signature song of Jaya TV was also a significant milestone for me, as people have been able to associate me with the song sung by cine fame Chitra and Srinivas. In fact that was a wonderful collaboration. Those were unforgettable moments spent with Mr.Aadityan, music director, Ms. Chitra and Mr. Srinivas. I have also been in association with several artistes such as Ustad Allaraka Sahib, Ustad Zakhir Hussain, Shri Fazal Quareshi, Shri Shivkumar Sharma, Shri Hariprasad Chaurasia, Smt Subha Mudgal, amongst others.

Where does dance fit in your life? How important is it to you?
It is my bread and butter.


How difficult or easy was it to stay in dance even as you pursued your main profession?
I was working as a software product analyst earlier, but the passion for this art form enabled me in balancing both. When the time came for me to take a conscious call, I decided to devote my entire time to dance – something that would satisfy my appetite.

How challenging is it for a male dancer to gain the acceptance of the audience?
It is indeed challenging. There are only a few soloist-male dancers, just a handful. I don’t do any conscious effort to get to the top other than practising my art form. I have always taken constructive suggestion as a route to constant improvement and progress.

Did you set any (dance related) goal?
I have always enjoyed dance. I have been passionate about this art form from a very young age. From that point, there have not been any specific goals.

What are your aspirations?
I yearn to be an acknowledged son of the mother land. I aspire for a ‘Padma’ title. I understand the journey is still far for art practitioners like us.

What has dance taught you in life?
Patience, sharing and accountability.

What is your message to your students and upcoming youngsters?
Learn the art form not just for performing but for the joy of it (This is what I heard from my gurus and this is what I have always believed it. And, this is exactly what I want my students to do). Learn it professionally though, as you really don’t know what life has in store for you. Inherit it and be creative. Never assume that you are the master. We are just custodians of the art form in our life span. It has been passed on to us by our legendary gurus. Today, it dwells in us. Hopefully, this will be inherited by the upcoming generation and taken forward. Dance is a composite art form. You should possess knowledge of cognate art to excel. Literature and music are a must. Read good literary works and enjoy them. Evaluate any lyrical work for beauty before you present them. I genuinely believe that dance should not remain with just the economically empowered. I would like to spread the art form to all strata of population. I have been trying to reach to those communities who otherwise would have been deprived of this art form.

I tutor students of Sivananda Gurukulam and Dr. MGR Janaki School for speech and hearing impaired. Teaching dance to hearing impaired kids is really challenging. I have conceived a new methodology that enables and gets them enthusiastic about dance. I feel there is a diminishing interest and appreciation for literary works, both in dancers as well as in the rasikas. Our educational system thrusts a lot of scientific and commercial learning, but gives least preference to linguistics and literature. So, commoner-dancer is moved by insipid lyrics and our vocabulary component is reducing unless every language calls for a TOEFL-kind of competitive exams for grading. I would like to create a platform and stage talents with lyrical works of great seers and composers for all practitioners.


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