Gayathri Govind has never restricted herself to one dance genre. Trained in the classical dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom and Kuchipudi, she has also learnt Ottanthullal, Kathakali, Yakshaganam and Nangiarkoothu. She is also comfortable with the semi-classical style and has choreographed many dance productions for her dance troupe, Silver Streak. Winner of the dance reality show, ‘Thakadhimi’ (2008) on Asianet, she has anchored programmes on all leading Malayalam television channels as well. Amidst all this, the B.Tech graduate is a busy IT professional. The Thiruvananthapuram-native, now settled in Chennai, balances work, dance and marriage. Excerpts from an interview with Gayathri…
On learning various dance forms
It was a passion for dance that motivated me to learn different dance forms and I have continued learning many of those. I have loved to dance ever since I can remember. I joined dance guru Girija Chandran’s Regatta Dance Academy in Thiruvananthapuram when I was three-and-a-half. I started out by learning folk dance, then moved on to Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattom. Girija teacher’s sister Geetha taught me Kuchipudi. I also learnt Bharatanatyam from Pattom Sanalkumar, Ottanthullal from Kalamandalam Narayanan and Kalamandalam Geethanandan and Kathakali from Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam. After attending a Kathak workshop led by Rajendra Gangani, I decided to learn that as well.
On the youth festival circuit
Youth festival venues often witness stiff competition among parents rather than students. I took part in the arts fete not because my parents pushed me into doing so. I enjoyed what I did and I didn’t restrict my learning of dance to the youth festivals alone. For instance, though I started learning Kathakali for group performances, later on I learnt some characters for individual performances.
We friends had formed a dance team, Silver Streak, which is still active though the members are spread across the country. The dance reality show ‘Thakadhimi’ was a learning experience as I experimented with various dance styles. I’ve also choreographed for Gandharam, a cultural production venture by Soorya Krishnamoorthy, and the title songs of a few Malayalam serials. A high point of my career has been performing Kuchipudi at the Ramayana Festival organised as part of the Soorya Festival last year in the capital city. This year, I presented Mohiniyattom at the fete. I got tremendous appreciation when I presented Sugathakumari’s poem ‘Pavizhamalli’ in the thillana format. I also performed Kuchipudi at the Soorya festival in Chennai.
I don’t want to bracket myself as a Bharatanatyam/Mohiniyattom/Kuchipudi dancer. I don’t agree with that differentiation and love to perform all the classical dance forms. Of course, criticism is inevitable when you experiment with a dance form or adapt new texts for the stage. Actor-dancer Shobhana is my inspiration in this field. I am in awe of her dance productions. Although there are people who criticise her dance, there is something in her work that keeps the audience glued to her performance. I fondly remember her appreciation when Silver Streak performed at a dance contest, Dhoom (in 2007), and won the first prize.
Balancing work and dance
My parents, K.S.Govindan Nair and Ganga, never forced me to dance or study. They always gave me guidance and support. It was only when I thought that I would do medicine that my father insisted that I should opt for engineering because he knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to balance the life of a doctor and dancer. He was right. With the support of my husband, Harikrishnan, I opened a dance school, Thakadhimi, in Chennai.
I will continue to take my dance forward. I am planning to do a dance drama, but it is still in its initial stages.