Dance teacher Anitha Guha recounted her classical journey at a recent event.

Anita Guha’s dance dramas are well known for for their grand spectacle of music and synchronised dancing. ‘Pada Kavita Pitamaha,’ ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ and ‘Mahadevam Mahasenam Bhaje’ are but a few of her eye-catching productions.

Anitha, who is the recipient of several awards including the Acharya Choodamani and Best Natyacharya Award, presented a lec-dem for the Natyarangam Trust recently at Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai.

Early influences

She spoke of the influences and inspirations that impacted her skill of composing dance dramas. The teacher traced her early days when she learnt classical dance from her mother Karthiyayini Natesan and narrated how her childhood spent in a lively atmosphere of classical dance helped shape her creative skills.

Having trained under Govindaraja Pillai, Radha Krishnan and briefly under Ananda Shankar Jayanth, Anitha recounted the establishment of her school Bharathanjali Trust in 1989 and how her love for children was the inspiration for her productions.

She acknowledged the inputs of the scholars, senior artists, critics and students who had contributed to her productions the list of which turned out to be a who’s who from the classical arts field.

With a forthright air that eschewed high flown language or artifice, Anitha conveyed the process in which her dance dramas grew from strength to strength neatly. Select clips of her dance dramas along with live demonstrations by her students supplemented her speech.

What were her norms while composing dance dramas? Anitha explained, “Interesting stories from mythology, the challenge in putting a large group of students on the stage, moulding them to perform to a high standard and a keen desire to showcase the students attractively” were her main concerns.

She also stressed how this was done in consultation with experts and that many months of research go into charting the storyline before the lyrics are penned.

She credited P. R. Venkatasubhramaniam for the lyrics and B. Meenakshi, her music teacher, for their inputs for many of her productions.

She gave a few examples of how voice modulation by the orchestra made a big difference to the dramatic effect and with a straight face contrasted a soft nuanced verse with the loud guffaw of an asura to a round of laughter from the audience also.

Deep faith

Anitha wryly remarked that initially her style was labeled ‘the mixed style’ as she took the best from each genre; but soon, this found appreciation among rasikas. She attributed her knack for presenting so many dance dramas successfully to a ‘deep faith in the Almighty and a flair for choreography’.

A significant impact of her talk was made by the relevant examples of dancing by her students that brought home her intention. The Ardhanari jati sequence portrayed the tandava and the lasya aspects and the Ganapati tala, the intricacies of rhythm.

Clips from productions such as ‘Tiruppavai’ and ‘Parishvanga Pattabhishekam’ added more impact.

Anitha concluded by saying that her future course lay in spacing out the frequency of her dance dramas and training her students to blossom into accomplished Bharatanatyam artists.