Balancing Passion and Profession
Balancing Passion And Profession. Lavanya, Preethi and Nitya are professionals who, as of now have espoused dance and confess that it is dance which has taken them to places.
What does an airhostess, business analyst and software engineer have in common? Dance! Lavanya, Preethi and Nitya, students of Guru Shobha Naidu balance their careers and dance to perfection. They say they owe their success to their teacher
Lavanya, Preethi and Nitya are professionals who, as of now have espoused dance and confess that it is dance which has taken them to places. What started as a daily ritual introduced into their lives by mothers (as they see these hobbies as ‘ventilators’), is now an inseparable part of their lives. Lavanya, an airhostess with Spice Jet says, “I cannot imagine my life without Kuchipudi, it would be an insipid and unexciting routine”. Preeti who tries not to miss even a day’s practice at her dance academy, says, “It seems like a tight-rope walk to many, my rigorous work schedule and equally demanding practice sessions here, but somehow the pressure acts like a tonic for me and I give my best even at work because of my dance! As a kid I hardly used to find any connect with this art form, but once I actually started experiencing it I think it’s too ‘heady’ to let go!”
For Nitya classical dance and music runs in the blood. Awards, titles, merits in academics are something she grew up with. She owes it all to her parents, especially her mother who encouraged her at every step and stood as a pillar of support in every performance. “If it was not for my mom who used to even read out the answers for me during my rehearsals, I don’t think I would have had the ‘extra’ time to give in a bit more to dance. As a kid balancing dance and academics was extremely challenging especially when there’s a pressure of parents’ expectations in academics, but I always had the support of my family and teacher, Shobha Naidu who stood by me,” says Nitya.
Nitya has performed on several prestigious platforms essaying major roles as Sita in ‘Jagadanandakaraka’, Maya in ‘Chandalika’, Narada in ‘Kalyanasrinivasam’ and ‘Krishna Parijatham’, Ranganadha in ‘Vipranarayana’, Parvathi in ‘Navarasanatabhamini’, A title role in ‘Mohini Bhasmasura as Mohini’, Tatya in ‘Sarvam Sai Mayam’, which took her very close to the culture. Nitya says it’s because of the constant exposure to the Sanskrit lyrics that she was able to get top scores in the language at college. “My mom used to say-if you did well in studies you will have the privilege of pursuing dance otherwise you may bid goodbye to it and study- on the other hand if you are keen only to dance and give academics a second slot, you may give up the former; It was this clever priority-setting which made me arrange things carefully around my passion. I soon learnt that if you have the will to excel, nothing can stop you. It was this spirit which she ignited in me that I was able to be class topper for five consecutive years”.
Today when I look at my awards -Best child dancer award (2004), Jawaharlal Nehru award (2007), Natya Visharada (2009), Twin cities Best Classical Dancer Award (2011), Pandit Jasraj Award (2011), National Nrithya Mani (2012), Nrithya Vilasini (2012), Ministry of Culture Govt of India Scholarship (2011-2012), Doordarshan-Hyderabad Graded Artist (B-high), Guru-Shishyapuraskaram (2014), I think it’s all because of the two lovely ladies in my life!
When one observes the trio’s daily schedule, it appears humanly impossible to fit in 48 hours’ (may be even more) activity into a day but these young ladies seem to be doing it effortlessly. For Lavanya an MBA graduate who works for Air India as a cabin crew, (air hostess), her day starts off as early as 3 am based on weekly schedule she’s given by the airways, and that is when she needs to adjust her remaining half of the day for dance practice. She says her teacher Shobha Naidu is gracious enough to understand her situation and accommodate her timings as per her work. “Looking at my interest mam often asks me to take up teaching dance, as I live very far off from the institute in Gachibowli - as senior students we all teach dance to juniors, as it is our gurudakshina too. In spite of doing this for over a decade, I still think I am a novice”. When you ask her how she manages such a great physique, “Dance keeps me on my feet, I see my airhostess friends gymming, swimming etc, all with the intention to lose weight, they huff and puff about the same thing which I do more joyfully!” Lavanya says dance taught her how to manage time, the very fact that she is also enrolled as a Grade B artist with Doordarshan is a proof to it.
Preeti, an IT engineer, who currently works as a Business Analyst for Standard & Poors Capital IQ, says though it took a while, she literally ‘found her feet’ in dance! As a kid she dabbled with many things and dance was one among those. It was only after she joined Shobha Naidu’s classes after plus 2 did she start finding the ‘connect’. Dance for her is unwinding and unearthing the expressions embedded deep within. “I feel all the basic elements in me in place when I dance; it’s like the whey that swirls up when the buttermilk is churned. It may be physically tiring at one point, but the different elements that come up in dance, like the navarasas, abhinayas and getting into the skin of a character is enlivening!” Does she get any chance to showcase her talent at her work place? “Yes, initially my office used to give me insignificant roles on the stage during any cultural fests, and once they saw me perform, I could see the change in their attitude; I started getting ‘meatier’ roles and I even had the opportunity to perform for foreign delegates on one such occasion. Today, I am called upon to perform and treated with more respect; I think dance gave me the dignity!”
As they say birds of a feather flock together, these young ladies look at dance as a medium of expression and have given themselves to dance with fierce commitment. All of them say they owe their success to their guru and teachers; They believe that only when one learns dance ‘gurumukhataha’ (in presence of the guru) will they truly imbibe it. Discipline, humility and striving for perfection are the traits that their teacher has imparted.