THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: For Lavanya Devi, a Mohiniyattam exponent based in the city, distance has never been a barrier to her passion to teach. Giving the practical lessons through Skype, she has never found the ordeal taxing. The Mohiniyattam artist feels that for a person who is passionate about learning any art, distance should never be a barrier. People may have their reasons- they may not be able to travel to India, but if they want to learn something nothing can be an obstacle. She says, “I am giving online classes to two people from Mexico and California respectively. While the person from California is an Indian, the lady from Mexico is a foreigner. Both of them are not just learning for the fun of it, but are serious and keen on performing. Of course, not being directly present does have a few disadvantages.”
Adding that she has been getting many more enquiries about her hour-long online tutoring sessions, she adds that the time difference becomes a major problem in most of the cases. Having turned to Mohiniyattam from Bharatanatyam at the age of 14, the young performer has devoted herself to the dance form, teaching a few students at home as well as in MCBS Kalagramam Vazhuthacaud. However, the disciple who learned Mohiniyattam under her guru Deepti Omchery Bhalla feels that the traditional dance form of Kerala is more encouraged and enjoyed among crowds outside the state. Even the essence and purity of the costume and jewellery is undergoing change, feels the danseuse. She adds,”There are certain section of people and institutes which are here to promote the dance form. But for many who learn Mohiniyattam, especially youngsters, it is mostly to ensure a prize-winning performance at Kalotsavams or youth festivals.” It is at this point of time that she talks about her online student from Mexico. Adds the Doordarshan graded artist, “She is a foreigner and a mother. So determined is she to learn Mohiniyattam that she puts her son to sleep early for the same.”
Coming into dance at the age of 7 during her time in Delhi, she recalls having tried to copy steps from Bharatanatyam performances on television at age 4 or 5. Later admitted to a carnatic music class by her grandmother, the music teacher, none other than Padmashree Leela Omchery, discovered her talent for dance. Learning Bharatanatyam from age 7, she got introduced to Mohiniyattam by Aruna Thampi, a senior student of Deepti Omchery. Adds the dancer, “Later I saw a Mohiniyattam performance by her on Irayimman Thampi’s ‘Omanathinkal Kidavo’ and was mesmerised.”
Apart from performing and teaching the dance form, the newly-wed technopark professional had recently sat for her MCom examinations. On how she has been able to balance her duties, she says, “My grandfather had once told me that you should never stop learning and my family had always been supportive of my decisions. Dance, for me, has always been something that I enjoy.”
Those interested to know more about her online training classes can contact her on 8590848232.