Mansiya dances her way ignoring ‘rules’

Mansiya, who overcame religious hurdles to pursue her passion for classical dance, takes to the big stage as Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi council member, reports Vishnuprasad KP.
Image for representational purpose only.
Image for representational purpose only.

MALAPPURAM: Mansiya VP is a gritty fighter. She took religious barriers head-on to pursue her dream and has established herself as a well-known classical dancer. Today, she runs a dance school and was recently picked as an executive council member of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi. The journey, however, was arduous.

Born into a Muslim family at Valluvambram in Malappuram, Mansiya, 28, received flak from the local Muslim community leaders for learning “Hindu dance forms” such as Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.

The clerics pressured her family to discourage Mansiya and her elder sister, Rubiya, from learning dance. The family, however, backed the daughters. They faced the ‘consequences’, too. To teach the family a lesson, the community leaders went on to even block financial aid meant for Mansiya’s mother Amina’s treatment.

“She was suffering from cancer,” says Mansiya. “We needed an endorsement letter from the mahal committee to get the aid. My father, Alavikutty, used to be a theatre artist. Community leaders denied the letter, citing that he acts in dramas and encourages his children to learn Hindu dance forms.”

When Amina died in 2007, she was denied a resting place at the local burial place, citing similar reasons. Mansiya, who attended her first Akademi meeting on Saturday, says such incidents made her only stronger. The ace dancer was in the news some months ago, when she was denied a venue to perform at Koodalmanikyam Temple, Irinjalakuda.

“The Koodalmanikyam incident was different, as the temple authorities had even printed my name in their programme notice.” Mansiya’s social media post on the incident and her message that “art has no religion” struck the right chord. “Authorities of temples, including Vennala Siva Temple, invited me to perform,” she says.

Mansiya adds she always prefers looking to the bright side, and is currently “very excited” about the larger stage that the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi offers. “It is a new chapter of my life – a proud moment,” she adds.

Mansiya, who is married to artist Shyam Kalyan, promises to work for young talents in Kerala. “I represent the youth – I will be their voice,” she says. “We have so many young, talented artists here. As the first step, I will work to provide more venues to them.”

Currently pursuing a PhD in Bharatanatyam at Kerala Kalamandalam, Mansiya knows the pulse of the youth well, as she is a guru herself. “I teach 160 students at my Aagneya dance school, which was launched six years ago,” she says.

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