US-based dancer, Aparna Ramaswamy speaks about how the traditional teacher disciple relations defined her art
Aarti Bhanushali, Asian Age, Mumbai
January 4, 2015
Aparna Ramaswamy was born in Calcutta and raised in the United States. A senior disciple of dancer-choreographer Alarmel Valli, Aparna joined her mother’s Ragamala Dance Company, based in Minneapolis, as an artistic director and choreographer. All set to perform at NCPA’s Umang on January 6, she shares her thoughts about her guru, excitement of performing in India and what Bharatnatyam means to her.
“The crowd in India is eclectic, they are a wonderful audience and my performances have been received well. Indians have music and dance in their blood, they can tell what is good and what is not. So doing justice to an art form so rich before Indian masses is always an honour,” Aparna exclaims about her visit to India.
A teacher is never a giver of truth, she is a guide, a pointer to the truth each student must find for himself, this adage by Bruce Lee holds completely true as Aparna reflects on her relationship with her guru. “She has been a force of inspiration, throughout my life, she taught us that dance is about miming the subject, I was fortunate enough to learn under her as she directed me towards unwavering dedication and teaching me that art is bigger than a person always, and when one realises that, self becomes less important.” Adding that one of her most memorable moments was sharing the stage with her master at ICRR, Japan.
Shedding light on her school of dance style Pandanallur, Aparna elaborates, “Each school has its own hallmarks, Pandanallur is one of the oldest and authentic dance styles in Bharatnatyam, with headlined by geometry and balanced by grace. The subtle shades of emotions inter-connected by music are reflected in this form. We come from a great teacher and carrying her lineage forward is a responsibility,” she says. Talking about evolving over the years as a dancer, she says “Each art form has an interpretation which grows and lives with the dancer. It’s like an endless treasure trove. Keeping the lineage intact and putting your own stamp to it, is what every dancer tries to do over a period of time and understand the forms dynamic evolution, it’s a never ending process.” To the students learning the eloquent dance form, the artiste advises, “Students these days are interested in hundred activities, when I was learning Bharatnatyam it was just my dance and college. Bharatnatyam is an ocean in itself, students involved in learning the art form must explore it to its full potential and have a single minded focus at what they learn.”