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18 Nov 2019, Edition - 1588, Monday

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Coimbatore

Common people support dance prodigy

Umaima Shafiq

The 11-year-old Bhakti Natya Niketan at DB Road Coimbatore is organising a unique arangetram for their star student Rithika G M on October 25 at Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan through crowd funding or fund raising from society.

Award-winning dancer and founder of Bhakti Natya Niketan V Karuna Sagari told The Covai Post, “Rithika joined us about 10 years ago, when she was six years old. She showed prodigal talent and qualified for a scholarship right from the start, and this helped as she comes from an economically weak background. After qualifying in Bharatnatyam at our school, she continued to perform for all our major productions with absolutely no expectations at all. You know just art for art’s sake.”

It was at this juncture, Bhakti Natya Niketan realised that Rithika deserved an arangetram, and decided to rope in the common people.

Karuna Sagari said, “We decided that Rithika should have a proper arangetram and that we should bring in the role of society in the making of an artist. Nowadays, arangetrams are like status symbols where wealth and glitz overtake actual performance. We felt that instead of collecting door to door donations, we would appeal to society to contribute what they could. So instead of huge cheques we just requested funds starting from Rs 500 onwards from each person, something which anybody will spend for personal entertainment. We felt that Rithika deserved a good hall, musicians, costumes and a crowd of at least a 100 people who would have each given up one cinema ticket or other pastime to sponsor the show. So it is not charity. We were amazed by the
response.”

She said that Rithika got contributions ranging from Rs.100 to Rs.10,000 with people living abroad pitching in along with dance professionals of other disciplines, musicians and performers who believed that she deserved a good debut.

Karuna Sagari said it is just not about the arangetram, which is the culmination of formal training. “Prior to that, the dancer has to practise intensely for nearly six to eight months dancing 1.5 hours daily for five days a week. She also has to be on a special diet of millets and grains to maintain weight and suppleness.”

Do you plan to continue this crowd funding for other students?

“Yes we will do it again but only if the student is dedicated like Rithika. We have trained about 100 students, boys and girls, with four teachers in the past decade but only the serious ones stick on, while others move to other activities. Beginning at age six, a performer can take about six years to complete their margam before going on to higher levels of Bharatnatyam. So it takes years of practice to dance effortlessly,” says Karuna Sagari.

Rithika’s parents in a Bhartiya Natya Niketan video say that Karuna Sagari as a guru had opened a wide door of opportunity for their daughter.

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