There is an old saying in Tamil, “Thayai Pola Pillai, Noolai Pola Selai,’ meaning that the character of a child is dependent on his or her mother, just as the quality of a saree is dependent on the thread with which it was woven.”
This ‘Chip-Off-The-Block’ theory is true of Gaarunyaa, daughter of Kalaichchelvi (Selvi) Uthayakumaran, Principal and Director of the East Auckland-based dance school, ‘Narthana Aalayam.’
Teachers, students and many others eagerly await the teenager’s Bharata Natyam Arangetram on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School, since Selvi is known to feature innovative concepts in the public debuts of her students.
And as the 37th student of Selvi to present her Arangetram, Gaarunyaa can be expected to be different and refreshing.
‘Annaiyai Potri,’ (In Praise of Mother) would be the special dance in the Programme, encapsulating Krishna’s recount of his mother’s love when he was a child. This item will include a few fables that were famous in Tamil households.
There will be numbers that are typical for a Bharata Natyam debut, including Pushpanjali, Allarippu, a dance eulogising Lord Ganesha, Kauthuvam, Varnam and a dance in praise of Lord Shiva or Lord Nataraja, the King of Dances.
Being a student of Selvi is in itself a privilege, for, over the years, we have heard scores of students- 36 of them – tell us that she is a tough taskmaster; and being her daughter, Gaarunyaa would be undergoing an ‘ultra-strict’ regime.
Says Selvi: “Gaarunyaa initially enjoyed her dance classes since they provided opportunities for social interaction with peers and the time she got to spend with her mother. Being athletically inclined and involved with learning self-expression in dance, it has been a challenge since she was three years old. Twelve years on, she is ready for her Arangetram.”
Selvi said that beside her as the Nattuvanar, Gaarunyaa will be supported by a talented group of musicians from India but stopped short of providing details.
Gaarunyaa has had the privilege of being taught dancing by the Late Adayar Lakshman and by Sajilal Narayanan of the Chennai based Kalakshetra. Sajilal, who performed under the ‘Narthana Aalayam’ banner in Auckland on June 16, 2012, will be present at the Arangetram.
Selvi started her dancing career when she was five years old under the tutelage of Gowsalya Anantharajah, and following her Arangetram, learnt Nattuvangam from Krishanthy Raveendran. Both teachers were disciples of Adyar Lakshman.
She established her dance school 19 years ago when she migrated to New Zealand with her husband. She has 800 solo items and 11 dance ballets, and was the recipient of a special award from the then Manukau City Council in 2009 for promoting the art in New Zealand. Since 2012, her school is affiliated to Annamalai University of India, for teaching certificate, diploma and degree programs in Bharata Natyam.
Selvi is known as an icon of perfection, hard work and commitment and inspires the passion for Bharata Natyam among her students.