For Indian teenagers living abroad, visiting India is usually boring or a culture shock but for Rangaraj Tirumalai, it is an exciting experience. He looks forward to such trips especially during the musical season.
Rangaraj, like any other teenager, goes to school and plays a few sports but what makes him unique is his love for bharathanatyam which probably is in his genes. His mother Ramya Ramnarayan is a classical dancer and the artistic director of Nrithyanjali Institute of Dance, USA. “Ranga initiated learning dance by himself when he was seven years old,” said Ramya, his mother and teacher.
“When he was a child I was desperately looking for a music teacher for Ranga. One day Ranga asked me if I could teach him as I was a classical artist and teacher. So without any concrete plan we casually started this process of learning and teaching bharatanatyam,” explained Ramya.
He has been learning dance for the past seven years and received brief training from Sajilal Narayan andSwamimalai Suresh. Both Sajilal and Suresh have helped shape his style as a male bharathanatyam dancer. Rangaraj along with his mother Ramya, has appeared in various programmes in universities, colleges, libraries and public and private schools both in full length performances as well as lecture demonstrations.
Ranga is an honour roll student who will enter Class 10 in September 2012 at the North Brunswick Township High School in New Jersey. Rangaraj’s interests are diverse and do not end with dancing. He plays an active role in his school’s marching band, jazz band and award winning robotics team.
Recently, Rangaraj was in India performing at the Sivagami Pethachi Auditorium, Mylapore and took the audience by surprise with his graceful and elegant performance. “I have watched in the US and I know how enthusiastic he is about learning dance and performing, especially in India,” said Rama Jagannathan, a teacher in New Jersey.
Rangaraj says that he always knew he was meant for dancing. “I want to continue dancing especially in India. Even in the US a lot of my American friends have started to take notice of bharathanatyam and want to learn the dance.
The mother-son duo visits India every chance they get and perform at various places across south India.