Memories of Bharata Kalanjali, Anna & Akka

a Grateful Alumnus
Nirmala John

Accompanied by my parents, I entered the portals of Bharata Kalanjali at Adayar for the first time more than one and a half decades ago.

Although the years have faded away, memories of the time I spent there still remain fresh.

My sole commitment then was to obtain advanced training in Bharatanatyam under the world renowned exponents, the Dhananjayans. I spent the whole day, from early in the morning till late in the evening, undergoing very intensive and rigorous training in both dance and music.

The atmosphere at Bharata Kalanjali was divine and serene. My gurus, Dhananjayan master and Shanta akka, exuded immense devotion to the art, and showered abundant love and concern on the disciples. I was placed directly under two senior members of the staff, a highly trained and exacting teacher, Mr Moorthy, and a much renowned lovable dancer, Shrimathy Radhika Surjit who has blazed her excellence on many a stage the world over with the Dhananjayans, while master and akka undertook my coaching personally from time to time as they often had to visit other countries for programmes.

It was indeed a divine experience to dance in a palm tatched, cadjan roofed, mud walled hut in the manner of the damsels of yore who underwent training in such places filled with mysticism.

Among the items I learnt at Bharatakalanjali which were all edifying and enriching was the dance of "Aandaal" especially composed for me.

It was memorable that my final stage presentation on completion of the course was done on the 20th Wedding Anniversary of my dear gurus at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, presented jointly by Bharata Kalanjali and Sankarabharanam. Dhananjayan master and Shanta Akka did the Nattuvangam. It was equally memorable that none other than the famous philosopher and producer of monumental classical movies, Shri G.V Iyar surprisingly graced the occasion with his presence, from whose hands I received the certificate.

I definitely am happy and proud to be a disciple of the Dhananjayans and an alumnus of Bharata Kalanjali. Now, though a mother of three children, yet I am determined to emulate my gurus and continue performing as well as contributing towards the growth of Bharatanatyam and the glory of Bharata Kalanjali.