“Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery”- Martha Graham
Bharatanatyam dancer Praveen Kumar was exposed to the world of the arts early, as his paternal family had artistic leanings. . So, it was not a surprise when young Praveen evinced an interest in dance.
For two decades, he studied under guru Narmada, a disciple of guru Kittappa Pillai. Students always absorb their guru’s most striking qualities, though it is not uncommon to try to clone the teacher’s dance style.
Says Praveen of his teacher: “She gave us enough freedom. While she did pay attention to the grammar of the art, she did not insist that my dhi dhi thai had to necessarily end in a kataka mukha, I could end it in a shikara if I so wished. She only sought the completeness of an idea rather than mere aping of form.”
Praveen adds that this is one of the highlights of the Kittappa school — every student would dance with a visible dash of individualistic trait. There would be no replication. It was under her that Praveen went beyond mere classroom learning to taking a leaf out of her book, where she taught the importance of art as a companion, especially in times of crisis. Praveen recalls these classes as special even today.
A decade ago, he realised that dance was his calling. It was then that he felt the need also to be guided by a male guru. So seeking the blessings of his teacher, Narmada, he approached Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, for whom he had great admiration. Guru CVC readily took him under his wing, and even composed a male-oriented varnam for his student. “Anna never asked me to unlearn what I had learnt. On the contrary, he taught me the nuances, explaining why I needed to do it that way.”
Praveen has been recognised for his performances in and outside the country and also for his productions, ‘Mahamaya,’ ‘Vijayapurusha’ and ‘Pandaripura’. He won accolades for ‘Pandaripura’, which he presented for Natyarangam.
He has an impish charm, which was put to good use by his dancer-friend Indira Kadambi in her production ‘Hasya.’
Praveen was awarded the Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar award by Central Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2010. He recently received the Senior Dancer award by Natyarangam.
Praveen feels he has been blessed to have had the right gurus and a team of artists with whom he has a perfect rapport. . He also feels that he succeeds because he has a team of artists with whom he has a perfect rapport. Praveen spends his time between two cities – even as he continues to train students in the Narmada vazhi in Bengaluru, he also makes trips to Chennai to learn from CVC.