Saturday, April 18, 2020


(Bharatanatyam Dancer)

“The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.”
Indian classical dance is sustained by a profound philosophy. Form seeks to merge with the formless, motions seek to become a part of the motionless, and the dancing individual seeks to become one with the eternal dance of the cosmos. The dance form of Bharatanatyam is an ancient traditional Dance form of our country that is rooted into our traditions and systems over a long period of time. The name is derived from (bha-BHAVAM; ra-RAGAM; tha-THALAM) and thus came into existence the much appreciated and loved dance form of our country. 

There are many exponents of this art form who have made our country proud and today we embark our journey with one such personality who has achieved success at a very young age and is on a mission to take this Dance form to global levels and educate and make this generation of kids to come in acquaintance with such a noble dance form. By learning Bharatanatyam children enter a life of discipline, devotion and passion. Being a dance form that blends dance, music and theatre, Bharatanatyam is an activity that instills poise and self-improvisation in the children.

It would be a well deemed honour and a matter of pride to present before you AYANA PERLA who is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer who has completed her Vidwat degree and has to her credit of performing over 1500 performances.  Born to a simple and modest family of Kasaragod region, they are a family of 5 members, wherein her father was an ex-government employee working with AIR (All India Radio) and Mother was a Librarian in Manipal Institute, Her elder Sister is an Asst. Professor in St. Aloysius college for the PG English Department and her younger brother is in 8th grade. The simple surroundings and shloka recitation and mythological stories were her first exposure to Indian Classical Music and culture, what started as a bed times story session slowly intrigued her to follow it deep down as a passion that finally got transformed into a way of life for her.

 “Doing easily what others find difficult is talent; doing what is impossible with talent is genius.”

Standing true to this adage, She had this thing for music and dance and used to find her feet moving automatically to the thumping beats of the music classes. She was naughty child and was quite observant. Her elder sister was shy natured and her parents had enrolled her for Bharatanatyam classes so that her sister could overcome this fear. Their father was in a transferable job and one such transfer lead them to the Heritage city of Mysore which is known to be the traditional art home of Karnataka.  During their stay in Mysore, Ayana walked up to her Dance teacher and expressed her desire to be a part of the dance class and become her pupil. The dance teacher was taken aback, because she was used to older girls coming up to her or Parents coming up to her requesting her to enroll their wards for the Dance class. But what was surprising here was that the person requesting the joining was none other than a 4-year-old Toddler who was trying to get a firm grip of the ground under her feet. However, she was confident of doing what others did and it was her belief that she can dance better than them as well... The Teacher spoke to Ayana’s mother and that left her mother equally surprised. The teacher was skeptical towards taking her under her wings, because the appropriate time to start Bharatanatyam training was attainment of 5 years of age and here Ayana was around 4.4 years. The teacher had to go out for a dance show for 15 days and she politely told Ayana to meet her after 15 days. The Teacher thought that the 15 days period would be enough for the little child to forget about the class and she would get involved in some activity and would very well forget about Bharatanatyam. But here was a Girl who probably could sense her dreams transcending into reality and she was like the perfect little child who either wanted Everything OR Just Nothing. 

The Dance Teacher came back after 15 days and she was shocked to see Little Ayana all dressed up in the Dance Uniform. The 15 days period was like a waiting period for Ayana and she used this time to stitch the dance uniform and was waiting for the D-day wherein she will meet her Teacher. Such kind of behavior is not insane, but just showed the little child’s involvement and the teacher readily gave her blessings and made her pupil.

She was fascinated by the Mudras and every single form associated with Bharatanatyam and her entire childhood spanned across by a simple schedule. Go to school, Attend Dance class and Music class and come back Home. This was her routine for the rest of her student life. 

Her Family was her Biggest support system and they understood her inclination towards dance and supported her in each and every way. They never detested her from keeping Dance on the backburner. It was just during her pre-boards for 12th Grade that her Mother suggested to stop dance class for 3 months and focus on studies. But that request fell on deaf ears and She persisted hard and attended dance classes and maintained the perfect balance between studies and her Passion.

Post her 12th Grade, she enrolled for Engineering and while she was in the 2nd semester, she attended a 5-day residential workshop with her sister. Those 5 days were like an Eye-opener for her and she could very well come to terms with the Gift that she was bestowed by the supreme power. She understood that her talent is invaluable, but the same amount of talent is also possessed by many people around her, however there has to be a way and approach to make this passion into a profession. If planned out properly and worked towards executing this plan, this Passion could yield very positive results for her. This workshop raised her conviction about what she is and her belief about what she was going to do- Becoming a Dancer in Performing Arts.

She started performing Duet performance with her sister during Engineering days and post her Engineering, she took a break of 6 months to understand the finer nuances of Bharatanatyam and was doing some self-reconciliation. It was during this time, that she took up a job in Diya Systems, Mangalore. This was her idea of being active and becoming economically independent and saving up some money for herself. This brought a different routine for her. She used to work in the mornings and evenings were reserved for Dance performances and came back home late in the evening and then resumed work the next day again. This cycle had become synonymous with her life and it wasn’t creating an iota of stress on her, because at end of the day, she was doing what she liked the most. And when you do what you Love, it’s never a Stress. She also made sure that she used her morning times to do some research on Dance and how to make herself and her art form visible amongst a sea of performers. She understood that if she has to sustain and make a mark for herself, it has to be projecting herself and her Talent adequately. She started understanding the philosophy behind holistic dancing and started building her Profile. She used digital content to make herself noticeable on the Social media platforms like FB, Instagram and YouTube. This trick worked and people started noticing her talents and she started getting invites from organizers who could see her Online Profile and were impressed with her sheer talent and invited her to be a part of Dance programs and Festivals. And these performances initiated the Domino effect for her, One performance and its reviews reached out too many and Social Media in combination with word of mouth gave Ayana the much-needed publicity and recognition. The reach was such that Organizers would reach out to her through emails and other social media platforms to discuss her availability for their programs. It was during this time, that she had to take a call on her JOB and had to decide if she wanted to continue working or become a full-time performer. It was a difficult call, but she had to take that to avoid stagnancy in her dancing career. She had given 2.5 years of time to her job and worked her heart out, however she now had to take a call to move ahead. It was a risk, but then she can't just stay back on job and contribute half-heartedly to her passion. So, the decision was finally taken and she quit her job to pursue her Dreams and passion.

Her quest for knowledge lead her to Dance workshops and Natya Kala conference that happens every year at Chennai.  “Pay for Arts” was the theme for the year 2019 wherein each attendee had to pay a fee of INR 500 for 5 days. And she was exposed to varied teachings of the Dance form, wherein they were given Lecture Demonstrations on Dance performances, Discussions, Theoretical papers about history of Dance and Dancers. The surge and downfall of the Devadasi’s and the misconception about Devadasi system in India. Devadasi system was primarily about Dancers who were genuinely talented and were performers who gained the patronship of Kings, Landlords and the rich and mighty. The British, in order to remove the culture and heritage of India from its roots, portrayed Devdasi system in a different way and this let to the fall of classical dancing in India.

On the same lines, She feels that children of today aren’t encouraged enough to follow any classical dance form. Everyone is interested to learn western dance forms like Hip Hop, crumping, Popping & Locking, but the inclination towards Indian Dance forms is slowly diminishing. It's important and imperative to understand the Western Dance forms also originated from the basics of Natyashastra which is the base of Bharatanatyam and 7 other classical Indian dance forms. These Dance forms have centuries of history tagged to it and in some or the other way have inspired many dance forms spanning the Eastern and Western culture. If we dig the history around it, they might not have a history of over 70 years compared to our art forms which have a history dated back to centuries. The inscriptions and sculptures on our Ancient temples and archeological site are a living proof of this. These Dance forms formed the base of our society and also have an important part in our Independence movement, wherein these Dance forms were used to convey the message of Poorna Swarajya to our fellow countrymen.

We as a country have a tradition of Following the Trend and at times, we don’t realize what the trend is about and without any rational validation end up following the same. In College the Seniors should ensure that the Juniors participating in college fest and inter collegiate functions take up one or the other Indian Dance form and perform it in front of a wider audience. This one small step of pushing the youngsters toward adopting Indian Dance Form can make a BIG Difference to the world. Our Music and Movies are also suffering a lot because of this. Most of the melodies which were termed as Golden melodies have almost ceased to exist in the new century. The power of those melodious songs is so much that people end up remixing them with some acoustics and beats and present Old wine in a new bottle and people accept that readily. The point to be noted here is that, Just like songs, Our dance forms also are very interesting but the need of the hour being that People should be aware about the same. And Awareness for this won’t arise if we don’t expose this generation to that. A child likes whatever he/she listens to and accepts the same, but it depends on what the little child listens. It's no point blaming the child and the present generation if we haven’t exposed them to these things. 

She has faced various struggles, wherein she has always been advised to get back to working. She doesn’t feel bad about this, because she knows it well that its people’s perception about her and she doesn’t want to live her life to please people. She is very sure about her passion and has done all possible research to understand the dynamics of this profession. She has reached that stage of her professional career, wherein she knows the rights better than the Wrongs and can take the right moves both in dance and life.

She strongly believes that Hard work, Patience and Knowledge are the 3 Building blocks of her life and she has maintained the perfect balance between them. There is no shortcut to success and the key to success is hard work. Every student of Bharatanatyam understands the value of practice. With the lessons of Bharatanatyam comes a very important lesson of life that ‘Practice makes a man Perfect’. It is only regular dance practice that helps a student rise to a higher degree of performance. This builds endurance in a person and makes him ready to pursue perfection. This can even translate to an everyday life value. Whether, it is studying, achieving better grades or making a presentation, getting better becomes a habit.

Knowledge about the Dance form and its application is an essence that one learns over a period of time and a lot patience is required for this. It's highly possible that in spite of being hard working and dedicated, we might hit a dead end. But that shouldn’t stop us from chasing our dreams. Dreams should be such that it should never allow us to sleep and keep pushing us to move out of our comfort zone and do some Magic for ourselves and the Talent we possess. She also strongly feels that the womenfolk of today who pursue their passion have to let it go for multiple reasons. Marriage, Children and Family commitments. But her grouse is that women are the best Multi-tasking individuals and if they set their mind on anything, Nothing is Impossible. 

The golden mantra for every woman out there should be, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; its who is going to stop me”

A lot of self-assessment has to be done continuously. A performer cannot afford to rest on his/her laurels. Every Performance was GOOD until the last one and the challenge is to better it and make the next one awesome. This is Continuous improvement process and in a way, it keeps the Churn ON and helps us identify our lacunae’s and helps us focus on our grey areas and eliminate them and make our work look and feel better.

She is currently working on 2 projects, she deems it fit to call it as Fun Projects. One is for getting music recorded for her own choreography. There is still around 20% of work pending on this and the next one would be a solo performance of 1 hour, this is still in nascent stages and she will be very soon starting her groundwork on the same and initiating this towards completion. 

She wants everyone to focus on themselves and their work and have a deeper introspection. We need not always look at the Grass that is greener on the other side, We can stop doing that and work towards watering and nurturing the Grass on our side. This Nurturing can be anything that we are comfortable in doing, but in the long run this is what will help us Bloom and get noticed. 

We end this beautiful inspiring story with the words of Mikhail Baryshnikov, the world-famous Russian dancer, choreographer

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

- Interviewed by Sonu Singh Yadav | Written by Soumyashree


Vinay said...

Very nice. Liked the way it's been written and published. Wishing you all the best Sonu on your journey of one new life.