We must use dance to communicate awareness in social issues – Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel

by Ekatmata Sharma
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Talented Bharatnatyam dancer Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel is carrying forward the legacy of her mother Rama Vaidyanathan and late grandmother Madhavi Gopalakrishnan. At a young age she has created her own dancing style to engage the younger audience. In a tete-tete she shares about her journey so far and the way-ahead for Bharatnatyam dance form.

You hail from the family of legendary Bharatnatyam dancers. How has been your growing up days?

Dance was a way of life for me as I was growing up it was a natural choice for a profession. A decision I took when I was three years old. Watching my grandmother and mother rehearse and practice every day and come with magnificent new dance pieces was so inspiring, I can only strive to be like them! 

What aspect of Bhartanatyam dance style you love most?

What I love the most about Bharatanatyam is the flexibility that the dance form offers for one to choreography almost anything, and the wide range of possibilities that it provides so that one keeps getting fascinated by the new things that can be created within the realm of this ancient dance form.

You have created your own dance style that amalgamates the delicacies of Bharatnatyam with the intricacies of modern day issues. What is the idea behind unification of the two?

My dance form is 2000 years old but I am in my 20s. So I need to find a way to make the dance form communicate important things of today’s world, just as the norm was then, when it was created. Bharatanatyam is a medium of expression, the one I am most comfortable in, so I find it easy to express my thoughts and ideas through dance.

What makes you feel so strongly that dance has the power of spreading awareness towards social issues?

Dance is a medium of communication that is not just visually appealing but also spirituality enriching, meaning that it can appeal to any strata of society and any age group. With such a powerful medium at hand, we must use it to communicate awareness in social issues. Reading about a social issue is one thing but watching it being performed in a visual art changes one’s perspective. Though, we must be careful about which perspective we showcase.

Which has been your milestone dance production?

 I have only a few productions to my credit, and definitely one of my favourites out of them is Shoorpanakha. I have also choreographed a few individual pieces which I regularly perform.

What would you be performing at Madhavi Dance Festival?

I will be presenting a dance production on Shoorpanakha from the Ramayana. It is a different take on the story and a dramatic twist to the tale. Shoorpanakha was in love with and then married to an intelligent and brave minister of Ravana’s court. Ravana, jealous of his progress, killed him to eliminate competition. Shoorpanakha was devastated and ran away to the forests India from Lanka. She vowed to avenge her husband’s death. When she saw Ram for the first time in the forest, she knew she would get her revenge through him!

Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel will be performing at Madhavi Dance Festival. She will be presenting a 45 min performance titled ‘Shoorpanakha (The Story Only She Nose)’ on 3rd April 2019 from 7pm onwards at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. Free entry

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