CHENNAI: From playing the role of Bharatha in the play Shakuntalam at the age of five to being the youngest recipient of the Nrithya Choodamani award, Dr Srinidhi Karti Chidambaram has carved a niche for herself over the years. Stepping into the field of Bharatanatyam at the age of four, the exponent says that dance instilled good values apart from the art itself.
Having always had dance by her side through childhood, school, medical college, marriage, motherhood and healthcare career, she says, “Bharatanatyam has taught me a lot apart from art. It has taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, commitment, professionalism, spirituality and focus. Apart from this, it has ingrained a spirit of appreciating all that is beautiful and artistic.”
A disciple of late Swamimalai Rajrathinam Pillai, she practices the Vazhuvoor style of dancing, a fluid and graceful style that emphasises pace and catchy pieces. “My Guru, added a lot from the Pandanallur and Thanjavur styles to Vazhuvoor. This added a lot of precision, austerity, geometry and perfection to the style,” she shares.
Having received awards, from Kalaimamani to Nritya Choodamani, she says analysing a performance makes her improve in the art. “I always find room for improvement. The love and encouragement my husband showered on me, and the support I’ve received from my daughter, mom and my in-laws makes me forget the number of hats I actually wear,” she says.
The Bharatanatyam exponent and vice president of Health Communications and International Patients at Apollo Hospitals is often asked how she maintains her work-life balance. “I love what I do and do what I love. That’s really the secret. I love dancing, I also love working at Apollo Hospitals and being part of a great hospital environment,” she shares.
With over 500 performances to her credit, Srinidhi practices, choreographs and incorporates new ideas and movements. “I believe that an artist should not live in a cocoon. The more one is part of the real world, the more interesting the dance becomes,” she shares.
Touched by the response that she received recently for performing to a piece on the Chennai floods, she says, “The piece depicts the horror of the Chennai floods and a query to Mother Nature is posted: why she waged such a war on us.”
What happens in the end? “Finally Mother Nature advises us to respect waterways, not close up lakes and build homes on them, and not clog our rivers with sewage.” Srinidhi says that the poem penned by poet Vairamuthu is close to reality.
A religious person, she shares that Bharatanatyam is extremely spiritual and performing on every stage becomes suffused with the spirit of Bhakti. “Dancing at Tirumala, Chidambaram, the Kapalishwara temple have been extraordinarily special and spiritual experiences,” she says.
Talking about the Margazhi season debate that ensued, she says, “Each to their own. Every artiste reacted in the way they thought best. As my musical team was keen to perform I decided to go ahead.” In this year’s performance she aims to give a special twist to add to the appeal of the Margam. Her next performance is scheduled on January 13, 2016 at Vani Mahal.