Vidya dadati vinayam, vinayadyati patratam", V P Dhananjayan started his talk with these words which means, 'Knowledge gives discipline, from discipline comes worthiness.' He said, "Be humble by learning new things and cultivate the habit of learning with discipline, dedication and devotion because learning is a continuous process which never ends."
Naatyaachaaryas, V P Dhananjayan and Shantha Dhananjayan from Chennai, the two legendary figures in the field of Bharathanatyam were in the city recently. They came to inaugurate the eight-day long workshop on 'In understanding the Indian classical dance' workshop by International Center for Performing Arts.
They have been bestowed the Padma Bhushan award from Prathibha Patil, former President of India for their outstanding contribution towards Bharthanatyam and they are so down to earth that they don't want 'Padma Bhushan' to be seen anywhere with their names.
They both learned dance in Kalakshetra, which was brought up by Rukmini Devi Arundale. V P Dhananjayan received a diploma and post graduate diploma in Kathakali and Bharatanatyam with distinction and served in Kalakshetra as one of the prominent performing artist and teacher. Shantha Dhananjayan is a graduate and post graduate student of Bharathanatyam from Kalakshetra and has taken part in the major roles in Rukmini Devi's dance drama productions. Later they started their own Bharthanatyam training school named, Bharatha Kalanjali in Chennai.
Dhananjayan says, "We are still the students of Naatyam. Everyday we explore new aspects while teaching our students. We are not dancers; we are taught to do Naatyam which means performing arts. It includes dance, drama, emotions, expressions and music. Naatyam is spiritual, mental and visual communication. If one learns Naatyam, he or she will explore the world in a different manner. It is only possible by learning any Indian classical dances."
He also says, "We are the masterminded disciples of nature. Naatyam helps in learning all these. It is not just about dancing, coordination and synchronisation nor is it only about narration and mythology. The essence of dance is its energy that is born out of feelings – joy, anger, jealousy, mischief, competition, curiosity, fantasy and so on. Movement divorced of feeling becomes merely acrobatic."
Shantha Dhananjayan says, "In our education system, art integrated form must be included. So that Naatyam also gains priority. Value based culture can be taught by Naatyam. But to learn it, one must have broad visions and interests as well.”
When asked about Bengaluru, the dancing duo said,"The city always supports and welcomes new talents and artists. Bengaluru has developed a lot, both positively and negatively. Instead of spending money on malls and film theaters, it can be utilised on proper garbage segregation which has a become a big time problem. The money can also be utilised in making proper roads and footpaths."