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Artistic endeavours

Divyaa Unni

Divyaa Unni   | Photo Credit: Jamesh Kottakkal

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Dance is a passion and acting will be a constant, says Divyaa Unni. She performs Bharatanatyam in Thiruvananthapuram today

Divyaa Unni touched down in Kochi in the wee hours of Wednesday. And within no time the US-based dancer headed for rehearsals for her back-to-back Bharatanatyam performances in the capital city and in Thrissur. Then it is back to Houston in the where she balances her life as a mother, dance guru, choreographer and performer.

The busy schedule is not new for the actor who has been away from the arc lights for long. “I come to India whenever I have performances. Otherwise I am immersed in running my dance school, Sreepadam School of Arts in Houston, which has completed 14 years,” says Divyaa, over the phone from Kochi.

She will perform Bharatanatyam at the Soorya festival today. “While I have been part of dance festivals organised by Soorya’s chapters in other countries, this one is really special. I performed here in 1999 or 2000 and so this recital means a lot for me,” she says.

Being a teacher

Talking about her growth as a performer, especially in the US, Divyaa gives all credit to her role as a teacher. With nearly 120 students learning at her school, she says that the onus is on her to keep them connected with their culture and roots through Indian classical dance forms. “When they are asked about how they stay connected to their culture, these children say that they are learning Indian dance (laughs). That means we are expected to keep them close to their heritage. Except for a few children, the rest have little exposure to India and its art forms. So it becomes our responsibility to impart them that knowledge. And we do that through our dance productions. We take a specific theme every year. The end product will have a blend of dance and narrative to make the children understand more about the topic,” she explains.

Recently they performed ‘Varnamudrika — Fingerprints of Light’, wherein the seven chakras or energy centres of the body was linked with seven colours. She is also pleased with the fact that some students are taking Indian dance forms so seriously that they do academic presentations based on them. “I grow as an artiste when I teach. In fact, I have students whose parents are also my students. That is one of the beautiful moments of being a teacher and an artiste.”

As the conversation veers to films, Divyaa emphasises that she is not deliberately staying away from tinsel town. An actor who has done many memorable roles in Malayalam and Tamil, Divyaa says that she does listen to scripts. “But the problem is I have many things on my plate. I can’t compromise on my commitment as a performer and a teacher. But I do watch new Malayalam movies. In fact, some of them pique my curiosity as an actor, especially certain scripts, some shots, song sequences, locations...I can’t cut myself away from this industry,” says Divyaa signing off.

Divyaa Unni performs at Cobank Auditorium, Thiruvananthapuram, today at 6.45 pm.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 4:04:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/divyaa-unni-on-her-tryst-with-dance-and-long-break-from-cinema/article20010331.ece

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