Bharathanjali commemorates its three-decade journey

A three-day digital event will be hosted by Anitha Guha’s dance school from November 21

For Anitha Guha and her students, November is a special month as they gear up to celebrate their dance school Bharathanjali’s anniversary. This year Bharathanjali completes three decades and to celebrate this milestone, an online programme will be streamed on the school’s YouTube channel (November 21-23), and will be attended by Cleveland V.V. Sundaram, Anitha’s guru Ananda Shankar Jayant, and senior dancer Rama Vaidyanathan.

Guru Anitha Guha  

Anitha Guha, the founder of the school, is known for her lively Bharatanatyam dance dramas, mostly based on mythological themes. Reminiscing on the school’s 30-year journey, Anitha says, “I first got recognition in Chennai when I choreographed ‘Valli Kalyanam’ for the children in my apartment complex. That was about 20-25 years ago. Nrithya Natakams were quite a rarity then, presented only by Kalakshetra, Guru Krishnakumari Narendran, and a few others.”

Regular practice is her mantra, she says. While the rhythmic portions and group sequences are easy to learn, she spends a lot of time teaching abhinaya to students, either individually or in small groups. “Body language and understanding the significance of a character are the basis of characterisation.” As a die-hard dramatist, she personally loves anti-hero roles. Heard the evil laughter of Keechaka? That’s her in full form.

“I am from Secunderabad. When I began teaching, in my living room, I did not even have a name for my dance class. From living room to school to temples to sabhas, it has been a wonderful journey. I did not plan anything, it was god’s will. But I have always tried to give my best,” the teacher-choregrapher had said in an earlier interview.

On the anniversary, Bharathanjali also proposes to announce the names of some eminent artistes to be honoured with titles in 2021.

The programme will feature solo dances by senior students; performances by some leading dancers who have collaborated with Anitha in earlier productions; and a presentation of her latest work, ‘Nama Ramayana’, a 10-minute digital recording choreographed to M.S. Subbulakshmi’s singing, featuring 60 students. “Learning to use Zoom, teaching this and recording it was a challenge. The girls look as if they are together, but they are not. Everything was done online,” she says.

From ‘Parishvanga Pattabishekam’  

The piece, ‘Hanuman Chalisa’, will also be premièred. “It was choreographed by some of my students, and there is another piece featuring young dancers. These segments were made possible by my senior students,” she says.

As the lockdown brought new challenges, Anitha’s students helped her cope. “My students helped me learn the technical aspects of digital recordings, which has come in handy for this event,” she says.

The Chennai-based author writes on classical dance.

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