Divya Shiva Sundar, niece of the Padma Bhushan Award recipients V P Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan talks to Vipasha Sinha about her dancing journey
For Divya Shiva Sundar, dancing is in her genes. As a kid watched her uncle and aunt – the world renowned dance couples V P Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan, perform and before she could realise, dance became a way of life as she trained under them
Learning from her uncle and aunt didn’t mean it was an easy ride. She says, “I was never given any special treatment from my uncle. I received more scolding compared to other students. In fact, he was partial to me the other way. And it worked for me ad I was inspired to work harder,” she says as we chat over a coffee at Amethyst on Whites Road.
She says nothing has changed since she did her solo performance as she still continues to learn. “My solo performance was at the age of 10 and when I was just 12, I went to the US to be a part of an international production Chakra by American ballet dancer and choreographer Jacques d'Amboise. It inspired me to occasionally experiment with other international dance forms,” says Divya who has also learnt ballet, kallari and contemporary dancing.
Having such a strong background in Bharatatayam, didn’t stop her from learning different dance styles. “They say that learning a form like contemporary can dilute your base in Indian classical dances but that didn’t stop me from learning new,” she says.
Divya shares a great rapport with her uncle and aunt and it seen in the performances they do together. “On stage we are professionals. In a recent performance, an episode from the Ramayana, I play the character of Kaikey and my uncle was king Dashrta and it was a challenge to play husband and wife on stage. But as artists, we learn to be the character we play. Also, we did a performance where I play Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamithra, who confronts him and Ashoka (played by my uncle) leaves the path of violence and follows Buddhism. It was extremely well received, better than we had expected,” says Divya who also teaches at Bharata Kalanjali
Divya has performed at various prestigious festivals and has recently relieved the endowment award from the Narada Gana Sabha.