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Dance Mothers

(Pic: Dr. Mahalakshmi Krishnamurthy with daughter Meera)

Mothers can, and do, play many roles indeed, writes veteran journalist Sekhar Seshan

Having just celebrated Mothers' Day, bizbuzzindia.com brings you an enviable multitasking account of some Supermoms who are not only wives, mothers and OOH professionals, but passionate about their Bharathanatyam.

A recent trip to Udupi, Murdeshwar and Chitrapur with a troupe of Bharathanatyam dancers from the Pune-based Academy of Indian Dances proved an eye-opener when they were introduced to the enthralled audience. “I am a software engineer,” Ashwini Sashital, very matter-of-factly, at the end of the last of their three performances at the Chitrapur Math. Ashwini is actually a senior manager by designation, of a team of technical writers who work for PTC, the global computer software and services company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ashwini, who livesthe roles of daughter, engineer, wife, professional and mother, found one more straddling all of these: that of a dancer. “Dance, to me, was and is a serious hobby, something which I love to do and which I have experienced as meditation for the whole body and soul,” she says. She performed her Arangetram in 1992; a career in IT, marriage and motherhood followed, during which there were breaks from dance. “I would often be the ‘guest artiste’ in class! However, the pull was always there and took me back after each break.”

When her daughter Kaushiki was little, her dance guru Mythili Raghavan encouraged her to take the child along to class, even though all she did was plonk herself on her mother’s lap and refuse to let her get up to dance. But Kaushikigradually understood that dance was as much a constant in Ashwini’s life as she was, and made her peace with it. She appreciates theworld that her mother believes has the capacity to offer the student not just art, but also inner peace and strength, and travels to attend every programme in which Ashwini dances.

Resham Abdagiri is herself a Bharathanatyam teacher at Gurukul School and a fashion designer. Mother of two, 12-year old Rewa and seven-year old Rudra, she says: “I always wanted a daughter, just because I wanted her to learn dance from Mrs Raghavan. She has started - and I feel so blessed.”

Dr. Mahalakshmi Krishnamurthy, who earned a Doctorate in Biology from the University of Freiburg, Germany, after her Master’s from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, has been associated with dance since she was not evenfive years old. Alsoa mother of two - 10-year old Ravi and five-year old Meera–she teachesmicrobiology at Bharati Vidyapeeth, as well as dance and yoga privately.

“My parents recognised love for dance even before I was five,” she recalls. “They did not have much knowledge of it, or that there were different styles in dance. My mom took me to the nearest class, “the mudra group” in Ahmedabad. My parents still share their memories - that I used to pretend to perform on stage by announcing my name and dancing the same steps again and again at home.”

The family moved to Chennai and she learnt the Kalakshetra style of Bharathanatyam, Trained under the renowned gurus Adyar K. Lakshman and Dhananjayan, Mahalakshmi had to take a break when they shifted againin 1996, to Pune. “We asked Dhananjayan sir to recommend a teacher here and he immediately identified Mythili Raghavan, who had founded and still runs the Academy of Indian Dances.

“I felt very comfortable hearing her name, as my mom is also Mythily,” Mahalakshmi says. “I had a break from dance for about 15 years when I shifted to Mumbai and further on to Germany for education.” Once back in Pune, she went back to Mrs Raghavan – who encourages little Meera also to dance with her mother, playing the part of the child Krishna.