Inspired by a tradition

Drawn towards Bharatanatyam... Fumiko.  

THERE WAS nothing unusual about the ragas or talas that resounded in the Kasturi Srinivasan Auditorium in Music Academy on Saturday. If one over looked the nationality of the dancer, it would have almost been another sterling Bharatanatyam performance for the rasikas, ahead of the music season. Only, Fumiko Arai Chandramouli is not just another dancer. For the Japanese-born dancer, who joined Kalakshetra in 1993, the performance was a culmination of years of passion for the Indian dance form.

Her husband, Chandramouli and children, Taro and Sakura, were present to watch the first solo performance on stage. Even while living the moment of her life, Fumiko's thoughts were rushing back to her homeland and her first teacher, Kyoko Nobi. "I was studying philosophy at Waseda University in Tokyo in 1990. One of the subjects that we studied was human dance forms. That was when I first saw some video clippings of Indian dance forms and Kathak was the dance that impressed me the most," Fumiko recalled her first step towards India. Fumiko took her first Bharatanatyam lessons from Kyoko Nobi, who started the dance lessons at a centre close to her hostel in Tokyo. The major move came in 1993 when she got a scholarship to study the dance form at Kalakshetra. Her marriage with Chandramouli, whom she met through a friend at Kalakshetra and subsequent family life did not allow her to dedicate all her time to the dance. But she never stopped learning.

"I have two children and it was difficult for me to undertake training. But I must thank my gurus (Krishnakumari Nagendran and now, Indira Rajan) for having been patient with me," Fumiko adds. The dance programme on Saturday was organised by the Indo-Japan Centre and was witnessed by the consul of Consulate-general of Japan at Chennai, Masayuki Tsuchikawa and several other Japanese residents of the city. On the occasion, the consul also released a book, "Learn Japanese the Indian Way" written by Major Frank Jesudian. The author spoke briefly about the similarities between Tamil and Japanese languages. For example, "Pena kodu" (give the pen) in Tamil is equivalent to "Pena Okudarai" in Japanese!

By Karthik Subramanian

Photo: S. Thanthoni