CHENNAI: According to dancer Padmalaksshme Suresh, dance should not be restricted by religion, or to a particular crowd. “Art has no barriers,” she says, sitting at her dance training centre at Mylapore, which houses an array of medals and certificates won by her over a span of 30 years. As an ambassador of the artform of bharatanatyam, Padmalaksshme, who is a student of veteran dancer Ranganayaki Jayaraman, aims to spread the art to maximum number of people, especially the younger generation, who would, in turn, pass it on to the next. “This is possible only if they are exposed to the art form at least once. Most do not attend performances because they think it is complicated and technical. It is not so,” she says. “Take for example the navarasas, they are just expressions which people use everyday. A dancer just presents it in an enhanced form. Each dance piece is just a story that one reads in the mythological books. Everyone can relate to it,” she says.
As a tool to bring the laymen into realising the beauty of the dance, she has taken it to hospitals, schools and even malls. One of her pieces Kadambam, which has completed over 50 shows, has bharatanatyam dancers performing to Crazy Frog, Om Shivoham from Naan Kadavul and Yaar Yaar Sivam from Anbe Sivam. As a panel member of India International Rural Cultural Centre, she has visited several rural areas in Goa, Delhi and Howrah to spread the love of art among rural students. “I remember performing in a Muslim school in Delhi. Before the performance, I told them to see the art in it, and not connect it with religion. The dance might be about Rama, but I told them to imagine I was performing about Allah, as god is one. They loved it, and asked me if they could also learn the dance,” she says.
This season, she has planned to adopt a new concept for her performance. In the over one-hour solo performance titled Atma Nrithyam, she will be performing padams — all chosen by the audience. “A list of padams will be circulated, and they can tick the ones they want me to perform. That way, they will feel happy that I am performing to their interest,” she says. “And if they like it, see how simple it is, they might want to attend other performances too,” she says with a smile. (Atma Nrithyam will be performed at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan at 4 pm on January 5).