Deepa Kartha says that Kathak is a popular choice among students of dance

Deepa Kartha looks every bit a classical dancer….expressive kohled eyes, beautiful sari complete with co-ordinated jewellery. What sets her apart from other classical dancers, who have learnt Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi, is that she has added the unlikely Kathak to her repertoire. And hers is one of the few dance schools in Kochi which teach Kathak.

Kathak is an unconventional choice for dancer trained in the classical traditions that Deepa has been trained in. “It did take some unlearning but it was not all that tough.”

Since there were no teachers to be found here, she headed to Bangalore where she found her guru Tushar Bhatt. She goes there once every four months, stays for a couple of weeks to learn and then returns. She has been doing this for the last four years and has been teaching Kathak simultaneously.

Experience

Deepa’s experience with teaching Kathak has been, contrary to popular notion, that it has many takers. She says she has upto 50 students learning Kathak at her Rudra School of Classical Dances on Deshabhimani Road. Even when it comes to Kathak recitals she says there are many takers.

The freedom of movement that Kathak affords, in comparison to other classical dance forms (Bharathanatyam for instance) where the posture is half-seated, gives a certain degree of speed. Kathak’s chakkars or spins are very popular and fast paced and it is an aspect of the dance form that audiences enjoy. Some of Deepa’a students have gone to compete at State level competitions and won top prizes too.

One of her students presented Kathak at the M.G. University Youth Festival in 2012 and 13 and got the third and second positions respectively.

Youth festivals and such competitions are a big draw because the dance form is different from what is usually seen. Deepa started learning Bharatanatyam under Usha Menon, an alumnus of Kalakshetra. Her other gurus, who taught her Bharatanatyam, include N. S. Jayalakshmy and the late Vijayalakshmy Krishnaswamy, both of Kalakshetra. She learnt Mohiniyattam under Kala Vijayan and Kuchipudi under Kalamandalam Mohana Tulasi.

Some of the prizes that she won as a student include second prize for Bharathanatyam at the State Youth Festival in 1993, first prize for Bharathanatyam at the M.G. University Youth Festival in 1994 and ’96 and the first prize for Mohiniyattom at the M.G. University Youth Festival in 1996.

She has presented dance recitals at some prestigious venues such as at the Margazhi Mahotsav conducted by Bharat Kalachar, Chennai in 1996, the Mahabalipuram Festival (2012).

After all that she has done she is not ready to rest. She is pursuing MFA in Bharathanatyam, long distance, from the Bharathidasan University.