Bharatanatyam dancer Kalakshetra Malavika enjoys her role as a teacher

Youth festivals have remained a launching pad for budding dancers and performers in Kerala. However, not many of them maintain their passion for arts for long. Kalakshetra Malavika is one of the rare artistes who did not take the initial steps as a dancer to bag an admission to a professional course. This Bharatanatyam dancer is now juggling her role as a dance teacher, performer and mother.

A native of Venjaramoodu, Malavika took to dance at a very young age. “Initially it was all to compete and perform at the youth festivals. I learnt Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Ottanthullal and mridangam and used to be a regular at the youth festivals. I was selected Kalathilakam at the district level for three consecutive years till my class seven [There is no state-level competition for the upper primary students],” she says.

But things took a new turn when she was in class seven. “I got a Central Government scholarship to learn Mohiniyattam. Also, on seeing my performances at the youth festivals, some judges suggested that it would be better if I concentrated on one particular genre. The scholarship came as a blessing. Once I fell into that groove, I withdrew from the youth festival scene. After my class 10, I joined Kalakshetra in Chennai, to specialise in Bharatanatyam,” says Malavika. There she got training in Carnatic vocal as well.

Once she completed her course, Malavika opened a dance school, Sivaparvathy School of Performing Classical Dance at Venjaramoodu in 2004. Over 80 students learn Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi from her. Two years ago, she opened a branch of the school at Jawahar Nagar, Kowdiar.

“I have had some really bad experiences while taking part in youth festivals. As we all know, these events have a lot more to it than just dance or music. There is a lot of money and lobbying involved. That is why, I don’t teach students just for the sake of youth festivals,” she says.

Her school has students who are from financially backward families. “Now I am planning to identify talented girls from government schools in the city and teach them. There are many out there who have a passion for dance, but can’t meet the expenses,” she says.

Even as she enjoys her outing as a teacher, Malavika is all set to give more performances after taking a break post marriage and motherhood. A performing artiste of South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur, she will perform at Venjaramoodu during the Sivarathri festival later this month.