With Gopika Varma chosen for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha's Nrithya Choodamani SAVITHA GAUTAM

For Chennai-ites, Gopika Varma is synonymous with Mohiniyattom. The dancer with royal connections, will add another feather to her already heavy cap when she is conferred the ‘Nrithya Choodamani' title by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on December 11, in Chennai.

“I am thrilled and honoured,” says the graceful dancer who has been romancing the stage since the age of two.

She goes on, “I have a special bond with KGS and Yagnaraman sir, who has encouraged me a great deal. In fact, my return to the stage after a gap of 10 years was at KGS… in 2001.” And she adds emotionally, “It was at this sabha that my parents watched me perform for the last time in 2007. Both of them passed away the following year…”

All about hard work

One of the few practitioners of the dance form outside of Kerala, Gopika is keeping the tradition alive in Chennai with her dance school, Dasya. A firm believer in the aphorism “There no shortcut to success except hard work,” this disciple of the legendary Kalyani Kuttyamma (she learnt from others as well including Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair) is all too excited about the December Season.

“It is Margam for me this year. I am performing a new varnam on Lord Ayyappa. Then I have chosen a padam by Iraiyamman Thambi. For the first time, I am attempting to present the Kuchipudi-oriented ‘Bhama Kalapam' in pure Mohiniyattom. I have got Sampreetha to write original lyric in Malayalam and want to tell the story of the simple and innocent Satyabhama, whose life revolves round only two things – her beauty and her love for Krishna. The theme is very ‘Keralium', very fascinating.” Gopika will also bring to stage the powerful ‘Aigiri Nandini', another first, and a Swati Tirunal thillana.

She signs off with an expression of gratitude to Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and all those people who have encouraged her in her artistic journey. “I believe if you have the talent and determination, you can go places,” she says with a smile.

Gopika Varma performs at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on December 17.