Bharatanatyam danseuse Rajeswari Sainath believes in exploring new subjects within the parameters of tradition.
“Life of art is an arduous journey. But like the light at the end of the tunnel, it is recognition that makes the going worth the name,” says Rajeswari Sainath about being conferred the ‘Natya kala sarathy' award at a dance festival by the ancient Chennai-based Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in its 112th year.
“Among the stalwarts who received it since its inception in 2004, I am the youngest recipient,” she smiles as she lists out the earlier awardees: K. J. Sarasa, Dr. Padma Subramanyam, Chitra Visweswaran, Sudharani Raghupathy and Adayar Lakshman among others. “To be exact, I am the ninth awardee in the last nine years and the only one outside Tamil Nadu. I feel immensely honoured, since it reflects my commitment to dance and the standards I strove to maintain all through. Isn't it a blessing that I have been placed in the realm so far invested by great artists?” she questions mildly.
As Rajeswari puts it, everything in her artistic life came only after a struggle and single-minded, focused hard work. It is with humility and trepidation that she takes the accolades that come her way, be it in the form of awards or applause. Therein lies her success. “Nothing succeeds like diligence and dedication in whatever you do. It has been my policy right from the start and now it has proved to be right,” she says with conviction.
Never one to rest on her laurels, as a senior dancer in the field, she believes in exploring new subjects within the parameters of tradition. Her recent recital on ‘ Brahma', a hitherto untouched theme, at the Marghzali season at Chennai, brought in its share of appreciation from many a stalwart in the Bharatanatyam arena. “I have often faced a certain amount of criticism for being laya-oriented. But I consider both nritta and abhinaya as two aspects of the same form and no single aspect can overrule the other. The maturity of a dancer doesn't mean giving up on nritta in toto and concentrating only on abhinaya. As long as the artist is able to maintain anga shuddam, she will be able to do justice to both. Otherwise dance is not complete in the real sense of the term. Though I do take up group thematic productions, I feel I am good at solo and in these days, when many mature artists have given up on margam, I am sought after precisely for this. I am able to give my best because of my unflagging attention to detail, grammar and syntax of the idiom,” Rajeswari clarifies on certain points that have often cropped up during her performances.
Despite being widely travelled and recognised as a dancer of consequence, Rajeswari is dignity and composure personified. Her pupils of Srutilayakendra Natarajalaya reflect their guru's penchant for precision and perfection and she is proud to be passing on her vidwat to her wards. And therein lies her contribution to the propagation of pure dance.
Keywords: Rajeswari Sainath