Dance gives them another chance

Bharatnatyam dancer Gajendra Sharma has been conducting free dance classes for underprivileged children for the past 10 years

Published: 11th December 2013 08:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th December 2013 08:19 AM   |  A+A-

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They are dancers on a mission. And their aim is indeed unique, to spread the joy of dancing to a segment of the society which could never even think of having a tryst with the art form. And for the past 10 years, they have been doing just that, taking the art to children who are devoid of opportunities. Gajendra Sharma and his sister, Madhuri Sharma have been conducting free dance classes for the underprivileged children. What started in 2003 with just two children has grown into a full-fledged dance academy with four outlets in the city. Sharma says that nearly 2,280 children are coached at these institutes. Children from different sections of the society have discovered themselves in these workshops while learning a step or two or interacting with other children. Sharma's tryst with Bharatnatyam began at the age of seven. “I was coached by my mother. I was forced into it. At that time, I had no interest in dance,” he says. But, years of learning led to a fiery passion for Bharatnatyam and Sharma realised his true calling. “After my education, I started teaching in schools in Hassan,” he says. After four years of teaching, the family moved to Bangalore in 2001 and here is where the real struggle started. With rhythm in his feet and dreams in his eyes, he wanted to share the talent he had inherited from his mother. “I would go houseto- house on a cycle to take classes. All I would charge was `50,” he says. Cycling from Rajajinagar to Whitefield everyday, Sharma would see children on streets, selling knickknacks or begging for a living. On these cycling trips, he realised that these were the children who actually needed to learn the art form for a better future. Now, Sharma goes to slums to identify children whose life could change with dance. He then goes to their homes and tries to persuade their parents. Once they agree, he or she is given the opportunity to learn the art form with other children. “I have never discriminated. All the children sit together and are given the same training,” he says. He adds that most of the time, children from the poorer sections don’t get a chance to learn these art forms as classes are expensive. “Along with education, dancing and singing are important to carve a future,” he says. It was during his growing years, he realised the importance of having the right teacher and a platform. “Even though my mother taught me a lot, I couldn’t learn more as classes were expensive. I don’t want that to happen to these children. I want to give their dreams wings,” he says. Every year, a cultural event is organised where the children’s parents are invited. Students of the institute along with Madhuri and Gajendra had also put together an event at Chowdiah Memorial Hall recently which was their first ticketed show.

 

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