It was at the age of five that Apoorva Jayaraman began her training in dance. She pursued it seriously, and not as a hobby. “Like my education, dance was an integral part of my life. I never ignored my training and practice because of my studies,” says the Bharatnatyam dancer, an astrophysicist with a PhD in astronomy from the University of Cambridge and also a Master’s degree in physics from University of Oxford. “I am a scientist but it’s dance that I have chosen to do full-time. It is an informed decision,” adds Jayaraman. She was in Chandigarh on the invitation of SPIC MACAY for the annual on-going project, “Workshop Demonstrations” in government schools, which strives to educate students about the rich cultural heritage of
Jayaraman describes the project as visionary — a step towards building young audiences for classical music and dance, which is much-needed. As part of the project, dancers talk to students about the form and also encourage participation. “We are told not to simplify the pieces, but make students realise that the art form is a journey, one that needs commitment and hard work. This is a long process, of exposing students and generating their interest,” says Jayaraman. She feels dance and music must be made compulsory in schools, as all forms of science, art, music, dance and literature are interconnected. “If math and physics are compulsory, so should be music and dance. My dance supported my academics throughout. It is a great stress-buster, makes you intuitive and creative,” adds Jayaraman, who trained under Priyadarsini Govind and underwent specialised training in abhinaya from the Padmabhushan awardee Kalanidhi Narayanan.
Through her diverse experiences, Apoorva has nurtured a deep-rooted passion for classical arts, which led her to establish the Cambridge University Indian Classical Arts Society (CUICAS), a platform for young artists in Cambridge (UK), to share their passion for classical arts, and as a medium to raise awareness about Indian performing arts in Cambridge.
Bharatnatyam, says Jayaraman, is a complete dance form, and one can collaborate with kathak and Odissi artistes. “The style of the dance form is very solid. The effort is to develop an individual personality,” says the dancer, who has performed a duet with dancer Shweta Prachande. Titled Krishna Karnamrutham, it has been performed in many countries. Every piece, adds the dancer, is a work in progress, as it needs time for incubation. “I still work with my guru. I am currently working on a piece based on the poems of Subramanya Bharathi. It talks about how different religions say the same thing,” shares Jayaraman, who teaches select students.