Dr Rekha Raju, Indian classical dancer, specialising in both Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam, has performed on innumerable stages across the country and abroad, gaining recognition and accolades for her innate artistry, authentic presentation, graceful style, and ultimate perfection. Started at the age of 3 under dance Guru Padmini Ramachandran, there was no looking back. Rekha mastered academics and dance together, taking a masters degree in business administration and a masters degree in performing arts simultaneously. She holds PHD in Fine Arts from Heidelberg University, Germany. Taking up classical dancing as her full time career, Rekha founded her own dance institution Nrithya Dhama Temple of Fine Arts with a motive of training tridents of all cadre whether poor or rich from rural or from urban all students getting the knowledge of dance under the same roof. She currently trains around 400 students at the Bangalore-based Nrithya Dhama. Talking to Dheeksha Mahesh, Dr Rekha Raju speaks passionately about how art is equivalent to academy.
What are the challenges to take up any art form as a career in India?
Challenges are in every field. It is the interest and commitment towards that particular profession that brings in success.
Is there a Bachelor’s Degree in dance which students can opt for after 10th and 12th?
Just like in other fields, dance too has bachelor degree, masters and a PHD too. I have a PHD in Fine Arts. In India, if they start at the age of 6, by the age of 16 they should have finished intermediate level (junior and senior level). With that certificate they get an entry to the bachelor’s Degree either in Gandharva Vidyalaya or Karnataka University. One should clear the entrance test which includes both – practical and written exams to get admission in Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
How is it different to pursue art in India when compared to abroad?
In abroad, from 8th grade or so they get credits in whatever they specialise in, which will help them in further studies. Where as in India importance is given only to science and maths. Gurukul was invented in India. When I perform abroad, I see the influence of vedas abroad. We belong to the country it was originated in and we are not making use of it. Parents should motivate children to take up art form as a career. Academics is not the end in itself. Concentrating on art is equivalent to academics.
What are the opportunities in this field?
Natyam itself is a vast subject, right from stage craft to costume every minutest thing attached to dance can be taken separately as a profession.
Any inputs for children who wants to pursue dance or any art form as career?
Like academics, Dance alone too can be a great input towards the total personality development. It is the respect and interest towards a particular career that can make a child successful. Infact in my opinion Dance is just not a hobby anymore, many artists like me have taken it as a profession and leading good lives.