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`Creativity is like poetry'

Padma Subramanyam, one of the most erudite and controversial classical dancers of our times, was in the city recently



Padma Subramanyam's recital was as enchanting as ever — Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

SHE MUST be the only one to have said a firm no to act in films despite overtures from the likes of Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, M.G. Ramachandran, and N.T. Rama Rao. But that hasn't stopped her being one of the most recognised names. The redoubtable classical dancer Padma Subramanyam was in town to perform for Belli Gejje, the festival to commemorate 25 years of Shubha Dhananjay's initiation into dance.

Born into a family where both her parents were artistically inclined (father K. Subramanyam was a pioneering film director and mother Meenakshi a dancer), young Padma found absolutely no difficulty in finding her roots in Bharatanatya. With her beauty, agility and grace, she won millions of hearts not only in India, but also abroad.

Dressed in a heavy silk sari, flowers in hair, and bright kohl-lined eyes, Padma spoke to MetroPlus despite her tight schedule.

Why did the glamour of the film industry not lure her? "My father was a big man and was instrumental in launching quite a few names in the film industry, and if I had chosen to get into the industry, I wouldn't have known which ones to accept and which to refuse. But I do act out a different role today; the abhinaya in dance is all about acting isn't it?"

Despite her erudition in her chosen field, she bereft of airs and is refreshingly humble. She does not resort to exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures usually adopted by dancer. This gritty woman had researched into the karanas in Indian dance and sculpture, for which she received both laurels and brickbats, which she took in her elegant stride.

All the quarrels people have with her "new" style of dance and choreography does not bother her at all. "My aim was to identify the karanas from the Indian sculptures and give them a practical shape. Karanas are not just postures, but also bridge the gap between theory and practice," she explained. In fact, she has also designed the black granite sculptures of the 108 Karanas of Shiva and Parvati for the Nataraja temple in Satara, Maharashtra.

Padma Subramanyam is a dancer, choreographer, and musician, all rolled into one. As if all this weren't enough, it was she who introduced the Pushpanjali as a dance piece and even composed the first Bengali Varnam. How did she manage all this?

"Any knowledge is good. What I am today is because of my sustained interest in dance. Creativity has to flow like poetry. Once the kriya shakti is kindled, there is no stopping me."

SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.

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