Rashme Hegde Gopi’s various projects aim to promote traditional arts

Dancer and choreographer Rashme Hegde Gopi may not have been making headlines lately — she hasn’t given a full solo performance in 20 years — but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy in the time spent out of the limelight. Amidst a hectic schedule that includes, among other things, running a family, reviving her father’s business and choreographing shows, Ms. Gopi runs a charitable trust, the Shankaraa Foundation, which turned 10 this year.

Located in Doddakallasandra on Kanakapura Road, Shankaraa is set on a lush campus spread over 4 acres and is home to a number of projects that involve people from the surrounding areas. These include an academy for traditional arts, workshops for children and a council for crafts supported by the Ministry of Handicrafts and Textiles.

Watches to crafts

Although Ms. Gopi says a number of “strange problems” including a land dispute have come in the way of Shankaraa’s functioning, she still has big plans for the foundation.

Her father, Shankar Hegde, formed Hegde and Golay, India’s first electronic watchmaking unit, which shut down in the 1980s. Now, Ms. Gopi is in the process of reviving the company: this time around, it will sell handicrafts.

Hastanjali, Shankaraa’s skill development programme, hasn’t been too active lately, she admits; this is because her efforts have focused more on the company, through which she hopes to employ artisans and set up a market for their products. She is keen on ensuring sustained support for the people trained by Shankaraa, and sees it as an extension of her work in the foundation.

Recognition

Ms. Gopi will receive the Karnataka Sangeeta Nritya Academy Award for Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam next month. “I’m primarily a Bharatanatyam dancer,” she laughs.

But promoting dance and folk arts has kept her busy, and she certainly counts Shankaraa among her achievements. “These 10 years haven’t been easy, but we’re still here,” she smiles. “Shankaraa will always be around.”