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Sonal is both teacher and performer

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The dull, cloudy weather was no dampener for Sonal Mansingh’s exuberant spirits. A bright sari, with red lipstick and bindi, looked quite the goddess of dance. And she is in the mood to play. “I am a clown and those around me are always in splits,” she giggles. For Sonal, who ran away from home to learn Bharatanatya, “Dance is a way of life for me. My performances are always works in progress.”

Sonal describes herself as “an enthusiastic teacher. Today, if a teacher hits a student, she will have a case slapped on her. I’ve been slapped by Kelu Babu just because I fell asleep at 2 a.m. waiting for him to come and teach me. I was a Padma Bhushan awardee at that time. But that did not make any difference to him or to me. ”

When did the dancer become a social activist? “Social activism happened in Natya Shastra when Bharata begins his story about the Samudra Manthana. The message is about the churning of life; about churning and drinking poison before you can get to some place. In the past performers had liberty to satirise kings. Dance and social activism are not separate,”concludes Sonal

SHILPA SEBASTIAN. R

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