First of three parts
Wenceslaus Anthony in Indus Age-
Former Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam once said, “Dreams are not what you see in sleep, they are those which do not let you sleep.”
Despite his inspiring words, very few people have the courage and determination to make their dreams a reality, especially for those who are thousands of miles away, following one’s heart can be all the more challenging.
One such person who stands out by following her heart’s desire and artistic commitment is Ratna Venkat, an eminent Indian classical danseuse based in Auckland. She is trained and adept in the South Indian styles of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi, the North Indian style of Kathak, as well as regional folk dances such as Kavadi Attam and Lavni.
What’s interesting is that she was neither born nor brought up in India, but her love for traditional arts and culture is incredible.
“I was born and raised in Bahrain, and moved to New Zealand with my family in 1999. Though I have not lived in India, I never felt as though I was missing something, because the knowledge I received from my Gurus and guidance from my parents enabled me to understand, appreciate and connect to my Indian roots,” Ratna said.
“Of course, visiting India from time to time is enriching for me, but my experiences and the time I spent overseas have greatly shaped my identity today – the best of both worlds,” she added.
Her dance training in Bharata Natyam (of Tamil Nadu) began in the State of Bahrain when she was four years old. She was later initiated into Kuchipudi (another classical dance from the states of Andhra Pradesh & the recently formed Telangana).
Ratna’s determination to simultaneously learn the histrionics of these two dance styles under the tutelage of her Gurus led to her highly successful graduation ceremony (Arangetram and Ranga Pravesham) in Auckland on March 10, 2007. Indian Newslink published a 48-Page Report to commemorate the Occasion.
Amidst the audience were the then New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, the then Prime Minister Helen Clark, several Ministers of the Crown, the then Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, the then Indian High Commissioner Kadakath Pathrose Ernest, art lovers and connoisseurs, business people and community leaders and other dignitaries.
The success of her Arangetram and Ranga Pravesham opened many doors, enabling her to travel around New Zealand and across the world, participating at major festivals, corporate events and private functions.
However, what sets her work apart are her creative fusion performances between her classical dances and other music traditions, be it East or West, and she has carved a niche for herself by collaborating with musicians from different music genres.
“After performing pure Indian classical dance for about five years following my maiden solo public concert, I decided to reach out to a wider audience and not limit myself to the Indian community. By staying true to the foundations of my arts and at the same time exploring other territories, I am happy that my collaborative efforts have so far been successful and have struck a chord with people of other ethnicities. Moreover, I have always been inquisitive by nature and passionate about people, so what better way to encounter new possibilities than through my art forms?” Ratna said.
(To be Continued)
The above article appeared in its entirety in ‘Indus Age’ Australia in November 2015 and reproduced here with the permission of that publication. This is the first part in a series of three articles.
Wenceslaus Anthony is the Chairman and Managing Director of WAML Group with interests in many countries including New Zealand, Australia, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. He is also the Chairman, Multicultural New Zealand Business Advisory Board, which is sponsored by the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils, Wellington, Chairman of the Mother Teresa Interfaith Committee and Chairperson of the Divine Retreat Centre of New Zealand.
- Expression conveys the mood- Ratna strikes a Bharata Natyam pose
- Ratna stands the test of human endurance in Kuchipudi
- Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards opened the door for fusion