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Multi-faceted talent

HE IS a dancer, dance-choreographer, vocalist, mridangam player and a nattuvangam artiste, all rolled into one. His is a multi-faceted approach to dance. "Dance for me is a wonderful form of communication," says young and dynamic Sheejith Krishna, an aspiring offshoot of the banyan tree, Kalakshetra.

On one occasion, Sheejith impressed the Chennai audience with his excellent piece of choreography of Marthyan, describing the evolution of man. Herein he had tactfully incorporated educative and cultural values and danced with aesthetic appeal, using traditional and contemporary techniques. The other day, Sheejith was seen conducting nattuvangam for one of his students, while on yet another evening, he stood out as a percussionist with an in-depth skill that would inspire any dancer and add to the success of the show.

Sheejith has been recognised as one of the versatile among male Bharatanatyam dancers of today. His list of performances, both solo and in group, in India and abroad, is noteworthy. At Kalakshetra, Sheejith is a member of the teaching faculty, while at home, he trains a small group of students, keeping in mind the motto of service to the fine arts. Sheejith had his initial training under his parents, Kannur Balakrishna and Manorama, well-known artistes in Bharatanatyam, folk dance and Mohini Attom, and directors of Noopuram School of Fine Arts in Kerala.

Sheejith's ambition to achieve led him to Kalakshetra where he was guided by Sarada Hoffman and Krishnaveni Lakshman. A diploma and post-graduate degree with distinction in Bharatanatyam, made him rich with experience in the theory and practice of this art. His contribution in the productions of Kalakshetra is well appreciated. "I am grateful to my esteemed teachers and veterans such as Prof. Janardhanan and Prof. Balagopal whose guidance and association helped me hone my artistic abilities."

When asked about his training in mridangam, which always reflects a deep understanding of the technique of accompanying dance, Sheejith expressed his zeal in acquiring skill in the varied aspects of Bharatanatyam. This led him to Kalamandalam Ramakrishnan and later to T. H. Vinayakaram and T. R. Sundaresan, who helped him get a thorough grip of the nuances of laya. Under S. Rajaram and D. Chellam Iyengar, Sheejith sharpened his ability for vocal music. Incidentally, Sheejith's wife, Jyotishmati, is an accomplished singer.

"I enjoy group work because there is ample scope for exchange of ideas, which I feel, forms part of a learning process. It teaches one tolerance, mutual respect and appreciation. Service to humanity is the message I wish to propagate through the language of dance," says this vibrant dancer who intends to work more on socially relevant themes. "One has to be a good human being in order to become a good artiste," says Sheejith. Yes. That is the pre-requisite of a Sahrudaya — to enjoy the goodness of art and appreciate the beauty it imparts to one's life. Sheejith is an artiste with a crystal clear vision, assuring the artistic community of a very bright future for our rich heritage.

NANDINI RAMANI

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