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Dancing to her own tunes

Divya Unnikrishnan, who has won laurels at youth festivals, prefers to continue dancing rather than enter films



DETERMINED DANCER Divya Unnikrishnan is passionate about dance Photo: Mahesh Harilal

Dance is a sure ticket to films. In fact most of those dancers who win laurels at the school and college youth festivals have made it big in films and it is with such dreams that they usually compete. Yet there are few who say `No' to films to pursue a career in dance. Divya Unnikrishnan is one of them.

Life has not been a bed of roses for Divya. She knows that she will have to find a job to help her parents. But this has not detracted her from fulfilling the dream of making it big in dance. Her responsibilities restrain her from joining any of the reputed dance schools outside the State, yet Divya has set a few goals, which she hopes to achieve before she takes a plunge into the wide world of classical dance.

"I'm working on a project as part of the two-year scholarship studies in Mohiniyattam. This is a Government of India scholarship and I cannot drop it halfway through. Now I'm working hard to present what will be my first-ever Kuchupudi solo concert. This is slated for October. In all these years I must have performed at over 400 stages. These have been short solo performances and some of them group events. I was shuffling from Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kuchupudi to folk dances. I thought I must focus on one form. That is how I chose Kuchupudi," says Divya.

And why Kuchupudi? "First of all because I consider myself lucky to have a teacher like Geeta Padmakumar. . A disciple of Vempatti Chinnasatyam and a performer in her own right, she is my inspiration. I realised there was so much more to this dance form than some of the items we usually see at school and college festivals. There is lot of scope for manodharma, it is much more flexible than most of the other dance forms. It is colourful and is so graceful."

Divya, who did her schooling at Bhavan's Vidya Mandir, Eroor, never missed a chance to perform, be it in the regular school events, competitions or even at temple festivals. "Since we did not have a school festival as the one for the students of the State schools I had to grab every chance that came my way. This did help. I must be grateful to all my dance teachers who stood by me."

Turning point

The turning point came when she participated in the Mahatma Gandhi University Youth Festival at Kalady in 2004. Representing St. Teresa's College, Ernakulam, Divya won the first prize in Bharatanatyam, Kuchupudi and folk dance and the second place in Mohiniyattam. "This happened when I was in my second year degree. The first year I took part only in the group dance for which we won the first prize." Divya represented MG University at the South Zone inter-university festival at Visakhapatnam and at the all-India festival held at Varanasi. "At the south zone festival I came first in Mohiniyattam, but managed only a third place at Varanasi. My college has been hugely responsible in furthering my career."

Having completed her B.Com degree, Divya is hunting for a job. Initially she had plans to do her post-graduation but that has been shelved for the moment. "A job is top priority. This will help me in pursuing my dance and then perhaps I can think of doing my post-graduation." Divya has anchored a few television shows, choreographed dance shows and also teaches dance to a few little ones at her home at Eroor, near Thripunithura.

K. PRADEEP

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