FOR 20 years now, Delhi-based Kuchipudi danseuse Meenu Thakur has been keeping alive this traditional dance form, entertaining and engaging audiences in its fluid movements, its enchanting styles and deep rasa. In Chandigarh for a dance performance courtesy the SPICMACAY, Thakur talks about how she reaches out to the youth.
Versatile and stunning herself, Thakur hails from Rajasthan and was inducted into dance from childhood. She also learnt Kathak for five years, and began her training with Padma Bhushan Swapnasundari and Natyacharya Pasumurthy Sitaramaiya. Today, dance is a vital piece of her life.
With gurus like Padma Shri Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao, Thakur has been able to keep this art form alive. With SPICMACAY for 11 years now, Thakur feels that north India lacks gurus for Kuchipudi and hence the bet towards Kathak. “But over a period of time, young girls have and are showing interest in this art form, too,” she says.
She has also been running the ‘Surmaya’ institute for 18 years to teach young girls the fine art of Kuchipudi.
“At our institute, I teach girls from Assam and West Bengal as well. Russian students also enroll, but for a short period. Kuchipudi is a vibrant dance form that involves complex footwork, making it even more challenging and interesting,” says Thakur, who will be holding a couple of workshops in Chandigarh to create awareness about this dance form.
Her greatest accomplishments, she says, have been her performance at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of late President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. She fondly recalls her creative choreography and mixing Kuchipudi with the dance of Brunei at the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit.
Her presentations mostly concentrate on socially relevant themes like save girl child, environment and traditions. “I like to experiment, but my roots will always be traditional,” she says. Her latest performance was ‘Bhama Kalapm’, a traditional dance drama written by Siddhendra Yogi. Penned originally in Telegu, she translated it into Hindi.