If T.J. Niveditha had allowed her disability to bring her down, she would not have carved a niche for herself in a particularly challenging field: dance.
Daughter of classical singer Rama Jagannath and ESIC employee T.N. Jagannath Rao, life threw up an unpleasant surprise early on. Ms. Niveditha, now 24 years old, was diagnosed with jaundice when she was a month old.
Her parents were devastated as she gradually lost 90 per cent of hearing and speech, and was left with half her body paralysed. But her parents, instead of discouraging her from realising her aspirations owing to her disability, supported her in every step. They admitted her to the JSS Sahana School for children with disabilities, where she studied up to class 4.
The young Niveditha used to spend a lot of time with her aunt, who runs Natraja Nritya Kalamandir in J.P. Nagar, and found her calling. Merely by observing other students dance, she picked up some steps and began dancing when she was alone. Observing this, her mother and her aunt decided to train her in Bharatanatyam. Her aunt and dance guru Subhadra Prabhu made some steps simpler, so as to not affect the left of her body, which is paralysed.
She gave her first performance when she was eight years old. Thereafter, there was no turning back. She has given more than 70 stage shows and won many awards, including the national award for ‘Best creative adult’ in 2007 and the State award for achievement in dance.
“We know she is special. That’s why we never focussed on her disability and instead looked at her enthusiasm for dance and encouraged her,” says Mr. Rao.
Ms. Niveditha wants to teach other children with disabilities; her parents are optimistic that she can accomplish this dream too.