CHENNAI: Pursuing a dance form is an expensive affair and it requires perseverance and will — who would know this better than dancer, teacher and research scholar L Murugashankari. Going by her own experiences, the daughter of renowned theatre artiste Leo Prabhu, didn’t have it the easy way. Now, as a reputed dancer, teacher and a researcher, Murugashankari is attempting to have dance reach the masses through Kuravanci compositions, which has both classical and folk elements.
Kuravanci, which is replete with abhinaya, rich literature and music, is also the topic of research for her PhD, which she is pursuing at the University of Madras. Murugashankari says that today, bharathanatyam has become repetitive and mundane for the masses. “Kuravanci can draw more crowd as it has elements for both masses and connoisseurs. Even the characters in the compositions are diverse — there is a queen who represents the elite and a fortune teller who belongs to the masses. It reflects every aspect of society. There is abhinaya, and literature and music that are appealing to a range of audiences,” she says.
Tamizharasi Kuravanci written by Varadhananjaya Pillai will be presented by Murugashankari and her students of Kalai Koodam Academy of Performing Arts, at the Kapaleeswarar Temple on Tuesday. Murugashankari, along with her 18 disciples including, Meera Chithirappaavai, M Janani and Kirthika J, will take the stage.
Murugashankari, who learnt from reputed gurus like K J Sarasa and Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala, hails from a lower-middle class family. An engineer by qualification, she had to take up a job to afford an arangetram. After returning to dance full time, despite a successful career as a senior trainer at a reputed organisation, she started Kalai Koodam in 2009. Now, after six years, 13 of her students have had their arangetram under her guidance.
With an MA in bharathanatyam from the Bharathidasan University and an ongoing PhD, the JRF scholar says that being a teacher has been a gratifying journey. “I took up teaching because I need to support myself financially. It has been a fruitful journey and I want to continue it, though I have many things happening at the same time,” she says.
Tamizharasi Kuravanci will be staged at 6.30 pm at Kapaleeswarar Temple today.