Anitha Guha on the secret of her success as a choreographer.
Trained in Bharatanatyam under Guru S Govindarajan Pillai and specialising in nritya natakam (dance drama) for young students, Anitha Guha is one of the most popular Bharathanatyam teachers of Chennai. In a field crowded with mediocre performances that go in the name of children’s recreation, her group of well trained, rapier-sharp skilful dancers stands out for its finesse. Recently returned from a well appreciated performance at the Konark Festival in Odisha, here she speaks about her years dedicated to the art.
What or who inspired and initiated you to take to dance and music?
I had my initial exposure to this art form from my mother Karthiyayini Natesan, later to become a disciple of Guru Govindarajan Pillai. I also had the fortune of being under the guidance of ‘Kalaimamani’ Radha Krishnan and Ananda Shankar Jayanth, for a very brief period. To be a successful performer and teacher one has to be well versed in music too. So I learnt Carnatic music from B. Meenakshi who specialises in Oothukadu compositions.
When did you take off as a choreographer?
From a very tender age, apart from solo performances, with God’s gift of grace, elegance, natural talent for choreography and love for dance dramas I staged a variety of ‘nritya natakams’ with my dance group in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
What are some of your memorable performances?
I played title roles like Radha, Valli, Mohini, Bhasmasura, Shiva, Urvasi so realistically that my audiences fell in love with my portrayals. In 1985 I was rewarded with the Minister’s Award for my portrayal of the celestial dancer Urvasi.
When did you start your dance school?
I founded Bharathanjali in the year 1989. Since then, I have been teaching and handing down to my students whatever I have learnt from my gurus. I found that teaching was also my forte. Having been blessed with this rare talent I thought it was my duty to teach Bharatanatyam to youngsters, and I try to bring out the best in each and every student. I have pioneered in moulding children from a very early age to professional standards. Many of my students have blossomed into solo performers and have been performing in India and abroad, winning awards, titles and scholarships. Appreciated by critics and rasikas as one of the foremost ballet producers of my generation, I have carved a niche for myself in the field of dance.
Can you name some of your Nritya Natakams?
Some of my nritya natakams are: “Parishvanga Pattabhishekam”, “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”, “Pada Kavitha Pithamaha”, “Chitrangadha”, “Koodiyirundhu Kulirndhelore Empaavai”, “Thathasthu”, “National Integration” and others.
What were some of your proud moments?
Many of my Bharathanjali’s students are recipients of the Bharath Kalachar scholarship since 1995 and the CCRT (Centre for Cultural Resources and Training) scholarship from the Government of India. My senior students have won prestigious awards and titles like Yuva Kala Bharathi, Balashree, Nalanda Nipuna, Singar Mani, Nritya Jyoti, Natya Chudar, Nritya Mani setting exacting standards for the institution.
What is the secret of your success?
I believe in hard work, personal effort and perseverance. I draw great strength from a very strong faith in God.