BENGALURU: The boys who want to dance don’t have it easy. There is resistence, even from family, and fear of social censure.
The disciples of Mithun Shyam – Rakshith, Ashik, Harsha, Shashank and Arun – want it to be known that dance is a beautiful thing to learn and it knows no gender. That boys performing Indian classical dance should also be celebrated.
Mithun Shyam who runs Vaishnavi Natyashala Trust says, “We perform Guruvandanam once a year. It is a Bharatnatyam programme exclusively by male dancers. The choreography for boys’ performance is different. They are Thandava oriented, more vibrant. With female dances, it is more lasya oriented.”
Out of his 500 students at the institute, he says only 20 are boys. Male teachers don’t find easy acceptance. “Parents hesitate to send their daughters, preferring female teachers. You don’t get as many shows and you even worry if you’ll ever be married.”
Shashank, who has been learning dance since he was seven, says, “I will depict Krishna playing pranks on gopikas... a funny and light-hearted piece.”
His mother Beena S Pillai says, “My son has always been interested in dance. We were initially doubtful because it is female-dominated and thought it would be difficult for him to adjust.”
Shashank adds, “I used to feel awkward and refuse to attend classes. Later, when I performed at school, I loved it and decided to rejoin.”
Meena, mother of Harsha, says that dance has bettered his concentration. “He did not want to learn classical dance initially and was more inclined towards rock dance. I took him to several shows and made him interact with male dancers. It took me two years to convince him. I told him to try for six months and if he is not happy, he can quit. But he was hooked.”
The other family members were not so supportive in the beginning. She recalls, “My husband and I had fights over this. No one knew that he was learning dance except us. But when my relatives and husband saw him perform for the first time on stage, they were all in tears.”
Harsha will perform different poses of Lord Nataraja and two jatis.
Through his individual performance, Arun M will explain the beauty and grace of Godess Kamakshi. He says, “My sister wanted to join a dance class and she wanted a company. So, I joined two years ago.”
His friends and school have been very supportive. “They come and watch me perform. They all encourage me because boys are few in classical dance,” he says.
The Class 9 student aspires to become a software engineer. “I have always loved computers and do some programming even now,” he says.
Suresh and Komala Suresh, parents of Rakshith, are excited about their son’s show. Komala says, “He has been pratising day and night, and manages to study too... I was always interested in dance and music but I could not pursue it because I come from a poor family. I am happy that he can dance.”
The proud father says, “No one in either of our families has trained in dance. He is the first.” Rakshith will perform a scene from Ramayana.
Ashik has been learning dance since the age of five. Today, he will play Hanuman and show the burning of Lanka. His mother Doshi Muthu says, “He is very happy. Our entire family supports his interest. He has won Kairali Sangolsavam in 2006. He is also a good sportsman.”
The show is today at Seva Sadan, Malleswaram at 6 pm.