Achievers Diwali 2019: Natraj School of Dance, Lower Hutt

Honour and dignity mark the vicennial of a Dance School

Venkat Raman

Dance in any form has found a place of distinction and support in most parts of the world, transcending manmade barriers of religion, class and income.

Young men and women dancers today show commitment and dedication, not experienced a few decades ago, save for a few who kept the fire burning.

Talented teachers have established dance schools to explore and expose talents.

New Zealand is one of them.

Arangetrams are held, not just as a public announcement of student achievement but also as a measure of promoting an art that has stood the test of time.

Harnessing Talent

New Zealand boasts of a rising class of talented youngsters who are eager to take the art forward and Natraj School of Dance based in Lower Hutt is a good example as among the bastions of the art.

Prabhavathi (better known as Prabha) Ravi, who established the school in 1999 at her home in Lower Hutt, has singularly fostered its structure, form, course content and quality of teaching and learning.

Her penchant for dancing sprung from her innate passion for the arts and took her (at the age of three) to Kalaimamani Krishnakumari Narendran, a renowned Bharata Natyam teacher who runs ‘Abinaya Natyalaya’ in Chennai.

Birth of a Star

Following her Arangetram in Chennai at the age of nine, Ms Ravi pursued advance training under Guru Udupi Sri Laxminarayan, known as ‘Acharya Choodamani’ (‘Uncrowned Master’).

Ms Ravi is credited with more than 100 solo Bharata Natyam performances in various academies and associations in Tamil Nadu and at community and dance festivals held in Canada, Sri Lanka and the US.

Wellingtonians and visitors have seen her performing at a number of functions organised by the Wellington City Council and associations.

More than 700 students of The Natraj School of Dance have added dignity and honour to their Guru with their energetic display of talents over the past 20 years in various cities in New Zealand, Australia, India and the United States of America.

Services to Charity

She has staged more than 500 free performances for charity including the Wellington Tamil Association, Wellington Free Ambulance and Red Cross New Zealand and at official events and functions held in Parliament.

She has helped raise more than $15,000 for various community projects. These include Wellington Free Ambulance,

Awards and Citations

Ms Ravi received the Queen’s Service Medal as a part of the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2018 and an Art Award at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sports, Community, Arts and Culture Awards 2019 for her services to the Community and Classical Dance.

About Bharata Natyam

Institutions like Natraj School of Dance demonstrate that Bharata Natyam is no more confined to people of Tamil Nadu or of Tamil origin, including Sri Lankans, Singaporeans and Malaysians.

Gujaratis, Punjabis, Maharashtrians, Bengalis and others (the people of the three other Southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala have been avid followers since long), young men and women of European, Maori and Pacific Island ethnicity have been evincing interest, with some of them aiming to graduate in the art.

According to belief, Bharata Natyam was developed by Bharata Muni (Sage), who wrote the ‘Natya Shastra,’ out of the ‘Fifth Veda,’ a combination of the four original Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) by Brahma, the Creator.

The purpose of the Natya Shastra could not have been more pronounced than the words of the great sage, which, translated from Sanskrit, reads as follows.

“As the world became steeped in greed and desire, in jealousy and anger, in pleasure and pain, Brahma was asked to create an entertainment avenue which would be seen and heard by all. This was because the scriptures, too learned and ambiguous, were not enjoyed by the masses. The creation of Natya Shastra is very important in Kaliyuga, the present age of destruction and decadence.”

Special Programme

As a part of its 20th Anniversary Celebrations, Natraj School of Dance is producing a classical dance programme in Hutt City this weekend.

Called, ‘Bhava Raga Talam Natyam,’ it will be held on Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20, 2019 at the Little Theatre located at 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt.

“Indian Classical Dance is not mere body movement to a rhythm. It is a discovery of roots, philosophy, mythology and many other facets of life. Every child develops his or personality and mind by learning this dance,” Ms Ravi said.

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