Rama speaks….

I was initiated into Bharatanatyam by my mother - Mrs. Mythili Rajappan. My mother always loved and admired Bharatanatyam dance. Even when I was 4, I remember watching Bharatanatyam dance performances and being awe struck by it even as I was hearing my mother explaining everything that was happening on stage to me!! I would come back home and try to emulate what I saw on stage by making up my own dances. If there was music playing, I would be dancing, be it at home or in public, much to the embarrassment of my parents.

On seeing my keen interest in dance, my parents decided that I should learn the authentic Thanjai style of Bharatanatyam. Hence, I started to get trained in this art form at the age of five by the doyens of Thanjai style of Bharatanatyam, brothers – Guru Kalaimamani Thanjai M. Arunachalam Pillai & Thanjai M. Vasudevan Pillai in Chennai, India where I lived. Once I started to learn Bharatanatyam, I never looked back as it was a dream come true!! I had 6 classes per week, 4 classes during the weekdays at home and 2 classes during the weekend at my Master’s house in Mylapore! Arunachalam Master rarely took private classes then due to his busy schedule. He consented to take private classes for me out of the respect he had for my mother for which I feel truly blessed. With 6 days of dance classes, I had to miss many a family functions and Birthday parties etc., but it did not matter to me as nothing could compare to the happiness of dancing on stage for which I was constantly gearing up!!

I had my arangetram at the tender age of nine and continued to professionally give solo performances under the tutelage of my Gurus and due to the support and encouragement of my parents. My mother constantly watched over my classes with my Masters and practices at home as well. She was very involved in the selection of songs for the different margams I performed given her strong Carnatic music background and her exposure to Bharatanatyam. She would take care of my costume and jewelry and all the logistics pertaining to my performance and rehearsal schedule and programs etc. My job was to entirely focus on practice, perfection and growth. She introduced me to Mridangam Vidwan Karaikudi Krishnamoorthy in order to learn Nattuvangam from him when she believed I was ready to teach this art form. The qualification to teach came only after I had learnt and performed over 50 varnams/swarajathis, many of which were old age traditional compositions that are unique and rare. Not to mention the innumerable keerthanams, thillanas, padhams and javalis as well that I had learnt over a decade of giving numerous solo margam performances nationwide and abroad! It was no simple feat to get to this point, I must say!

I don’t believe that my mother ever thought that her one keen interest and effort for me to learn Bharatanatyam would change the next many decades of my life significantly and make me the person I am today - a transformed woman with the single idea of realizing the dream that my mother had initiated. My dance school "Mythili Dance Academy'' has thus been named after my beloved late mother, for the inspiration and motivation she provided me in pursuing excellence in this art form. After her death, my father continued to support and help me in all of my dance endeavors and that of my students till he passed away recently!! I truly miss my parents since they have always been a strong support system for me without which I would not have been able to perform and teach this art form for decades now.

While my parents are no more, I see the likes of them every day in all the amazing parents of my students!! Their dream to see their child perform and pursue this art form is admirable and what is much more applaudable is the support they give to their kids in and out of the house in terms of practices, and schedules and makeup and costume with a smile on their face!! These parents and my amazing talented, respectful, and humble students who make me feel very valued continue to be my inspiration in the absence of my parents!! For that I am very blessed!