STUDENTS

SERENA FERNANDO


fernando.serena@yahoo.in

I have been learning Bharatanatyam since four and a half years, with sincerity and dedication, from Guru Rajee Narayan. I was able to present my Arangetram within a year, in 2011, after undergoing rigorous training.But constant interaction with Guruji filled me with the desire to dance more, learn more of this art form.

In March 2012, I had the opportunity to assist Guruji in a dance workshop, on Dasavatharam, organised by Takshashila Dance Academy, Vashi. This project included audio recording in a studio, where I had the opportunity to be the dancer and co-ordinator. The entire process of learning, performing, teaching, recording was truly memorable and I will always cherish the memories of those days, filled with excitement and a sense of achievement. I am aware that not every student or aspiring dancer gets an opportunity to work so close with Guruji.

On 14th February, this year, I presented a completely new margam, as a special dedication to my beloved Guruji. The theme was rightfully chosen as ‘Samarpanam’ by Guruji herself. The preparation journey for this performance was Herculean, since I had only three months to learn the entire margam. Each item was selected with great care by Guruji; including some of her own compositions.

Aaduvaar, a Nataraja padam was chosen on my special request. I knew this would be the toughest to learn, especially the intricate and unusual Pallavi. The entire Margam was brisk and tough. There were intricate jathi patterns to be learnt; especially in the Varnam, Anname. The Tillana had distinctive choreography, with Pancha jaathi. The new lessons were arduous and sometimes, it was incomprehensible, trying to grasp the technicalities and complexities of Guruji’s choreography. What I will never forget is Guruji’s infinite patience in teaching me this difficult margam, breaking the barrier set by her age. Along with patience, I could feel Guruji’s passion for this ancient art. Her contribution to the survival and progress of this traditional dance form, Bharatnatyam and Carnatic music is phenomenal, extraordinary. This inspired me to put in great effort and do full justice to the theme, Samarpanam. I hoped my Guruji would be happy with my performance and this became my aim. My mother was determined to have a large turnout for the performance; to show the world the greatness of my already legendary Guru.

As I am writing, reflecting on the many people in the audience that day, who were full of praise, not only for my performance, but more importantly, for my dear Guruji, who, despite her age, put in so much effort to teach me, guide me and without whose grace and blessings, surely, I would not have achieved anything.

After completing my Bachelors in Sociology with honours from St. Xaviers College, Mumbai, I am currently pursuing Masters in Public Policy, St.Xaviers College, Mumbai. Even though my passion and career will not coincide, I continue to practise Bharatanatyam and wish to remain a student of this fine art, all my life. Apart from dance, I am learning Nattuvangam and Carnatic music also.

Someday, I intend to write a book on my beloved Guru.