Deepa Sangeeth and Roopa Ravindran do a sister act in the world of classical dance, albeit in different forms
Dressed in bright salwar kameezes, wearing heavy eye make up and big bindis, Deepa Sangeeth and Roopa Ravindran look every inch the dancers they are. The sisters took to dance at a very young age. Though they started with Bharatanatya, Deepa went on to Kalakshetra to pursue her studies in Bharatanatya while the younger, Roopa, went to the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography (NIKC) to learn Kathak and modern dance.
They give complete credit to the late Jeevraj Alva for their dancing career. “Our parents are into politics. It was during one of the functions that he saw us perform and encouraged us to pursue dance. It was he who actually put me into NIKC,” recalls Roopa.
The young dancers also give credit to their parents. “We have many doctors and engineers in our orthodox family. Yet, we were encouraged to take to dance,” says Deepa, who adds that now it's her husband who encourages her to pursue her passion. And Roopa adds in dreamily: “I wish I too find a man who will help me live my dreams.”
Deepa also studied photography and acting and she has two serials — “Paropakari” which was telecast on DD1 and “Nagarika” on DD9, to her credit. “I cherish every experience. Kalakshetra is a complete gurukula system, which opened the vast world of our culture and heritage to me. Acting and dance groomed me. It was Kalakshetra that made me a traditionalist and I stuck to dance,” says Deepa.
“Acting in films is not bad. It's more about the roles you choose and the project you work on. People talk about being exploited and so on. But a lot also depends on how you behave and your view of life. Every action has a reaction,” says Roopa who has acted as a child artiste in Kannada films like “Indradhanush”, “Suryavamsha”, “Kanasalu Neene Manasalu Neene” and “Deepavali”. She also was the lead in an art film “Dharma Yodharu”.
“I think she is comfortable with this medium as she has been in it since she was a child,” observes Deepa.
“But you need a lot of luck to make it big in films. As for dance, I am so inspired by Maya didi (danseuse Maya Rao). I've learnt so much from her. She's so supportive as a guru,” says Roopa. “True, all gurus are very supportive,” adds Deepa who runs a dance school, Kala Smrithi, in Domlur with Roopa.
Who's the busy bee?
While Deepa shuttles between home, dance school and motherhood, Roopa is the busier one. She works at the Bangalore International Airport Limited in the guest relations department. Besides learning Kathak, she is also into martial arts and rushes in through rehearsals with Ranjan Mullarat and Dil Sagar besides teaching and travelling extensively to perform. She is just back from a performance in Dubai.
“Don't know how she manages it. She even works on shifts!” says Deepa.
“I catch up on my sleep during my travel. I'm lucky because my office is very supportive,” offers Roopa.
“You know you tend to mix up styles when learning so many forms, but she is good and can do justice to every style that she performs,” observes Deepa.
The two girls are also into voluntary work. Together, they teach at the Rakum School For The Blind, Indiranagar. “We teach Kathak, Bharatanatya and creative movement. All this is done through touch,” explains Roopa. Deepa says: “They are clever children. They pick up so fast. God has given us everything and we misuse our talents. We are so blind in so many ways. But these children are so dedicated. They even recognise you through smell! Working with them often moves me to tears.”
The two are fanatic about Indian traditions and culture and are on a mission to make young children aware of it. “Many don't know the difference between Kathak and Kathakali. But they will tell you the difference between a salsa and jive! Look at any magazine that has a picture of yoga. There will always be a foreigner in it. We have everything right here. But we ignore it till it becomes a craze abroad and then we take to it. Why?” asks Roopa. “Some people actually look down upon classical dancers. Today it's big to be a contemporary dancer. We want children to know that they should be proud of their mother tongue and their arts and dance,” says Deepa.
The sisters dream about starting a huge dance institution that will teach all the classical dance forms of India. “It's something that we want to give back to the form that has given us so much. Dance transports you into a spiritual and divine world that no amount of money can give you,” says Deepa.
They teach Bharatnatya and Kathak at their dance school and have classes for housewives and children. They can be contacted on 9663000277 or firstname.lastname@example.org