Sadhana – The Grace Through Kathak by Dr N. Shree Vidya

DANCING is exhilarating for me, says Dr N. Shree Vidya while medicine is a calling.

The 36-year-old will be taking time off her fellowship in endrocrinology studies to do a solo kathak performance over the June 16 weekend.

“It’ll be about my journey in dance and life, about finding my space with my own set of complexities,” says Vidya of her show, Sadhana – The Grace Through Kathak.

Vidya began her dance studies from the age of five at the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Over the decades, she learnt  bharatanatyam, odissi, kathak and contemporary dance.

“But while I learnt dance, when it came to a career, I could see no other but medicine,” says Vidya with a flash of pearly teeth.

Dance is about finding my inner peace, finding my quiet zone. Dancing is my zen zone.”

So Vidya takes unpaid leave from hospital work to participate in dance performances, like Sadhana.

“It’s been maybe six years since I last did a solo dance. For Sadhana, I went to Kolkatta (India) to train for a few weeks under Paramitra Maitra, a disciple of kathak guru Pandit Birju Maharaj.”

Despite kathak being featured in Indian movies, like “Bajirao Mastani” with Deepika Padukone, “Dedh Ishqiya” and “Devdas”, both with Madhuri Dixit, in dance sequences choreographed by Pandit Birju,Vidya feels Malaysians are not that familiar with kathak, as compared with the other Indian dance forms.

Kathak – from katha meaning story, and katthaka the storyteller — is one of the main genres of ancient Indian classical dance. According to India’s Centre for Cultural Resources and Training, kathak probably began as an oral tradition by travelling bards of North India who narrated stories largely based on episodes from the epics, myths and legends.

Today, kathak encompasses bhava, the expression of moods and emotions, layakari or rhythmic virtuosity,  as well as  narration, musical and dance-drama aspects.

For Vidya, Sadhana will showcase the kathak repertoire in two taal (beats) – 11 and 16.

“I am humbled by the complexity of the dance which has such brilliant mathematical calculations. The rhythm even comes with half-beats, and the musicians do it all with such humility,” says this mother of a two-year-old.

The one-hour show will see Vidya talking the audience through the repertoire with anecdotes of her journey through dance and life.

Sadhana is part of TFA’s Inner Space Dance Company, under Umesh Shetty. The one-hour shows have also been presented by Dr Dhanya and soon Nandita Krishnan (June 23). They are preludes to a full-length performance by the Inner Space team, comprising five full-time dancers and a few part-timers, later this year.

“People ask me if I am not stretching myself too thin. I say, why not if I can? As a Libran, I am all about finding that balance in my life. As a doctor, I deal with death a lot, and inevitably my patients talk about remorse and regrets – should have, could have, wonder why I am doing this or that job. So, time is fleeting and dance is for me going to a happy place.”

For Vidya, dance is her medicine.

You can catch her show June 16 – June 17, at8pm, at Temple of Fine Arts Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Admission by donations. Call 03-22743709 or email admin@tfa.org.my

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