Dance is universally loved and the reason behind this could be the invigorating and rhythmic movements of this performing art form. It's this “pull” that motivated Kalakshetra Malavika to perform with wholehearted devotion and a passion unparalleled. She has committed herself to the onerous task of performing traditional dance forms in their pristine purity and also bring back to life dying art forms and present them before an audience that could watch then in awestruck reverence. Both the tasks are easier visualized than performed. It's a dancer's dream to be a performing artiste and an instructor too at the same time. It stands to Malavika's credit that she has carried both on her lissome shoulders with ease and élan.
In a candid interface with Onmanorama, the dancer talks about her passion for dance, a love which started at the tender age of three.
Dancing from age three
Not a baby, nor a toddler, but a tiny tot. That's when Malavika started off on her twinkle toes. Dance at three and bharatnatyam at five. Her life began thus. With Chandralekha Jose, her first guru in bharatnatyam instructing her, Malavika was a regular at all school performances. The Kalathilakam title which she earned was well deserved and youth festivals were apt platforms for budding artistes to display their talents. Youth festivals those days were not the much hyped shows they have turned out to be today. And she danced to her heart's content never visualizing that this could be a life-changing course for her.
She won a Central Government scholarship for mohiniyattam while in class six. This was one factor which motivated her to view dance in a more serious vein. She soon joined Kalakshetra to train intensively in bharatnatyam under illustrious gurus, almost like Rukmini Devi. It was her interaction with those dancing greats and their undivided commitment to dance that made Malavika realize that dance was divine and it could influence and change the way people viewed life.
Dance not only a passion
Whatever you are engaged in, you need to find the time to perfect it. There are people for whom dance is a passion, a profession for yet others. What's most important is to find a way to balance one's life and one's career. “As for me, dance is a passion and a profession as well,” says Malavika. There might be times, difficult times in life, but that should never be a reason for giving up on dance, she adds. It's those quick-fix doctors who bring up obstacles and pave an artiste's path with hurdles. Those who are endowed with real talent can work on it and turn the talent into a profession.
What new-age kids love
Kids love to dance. Perhaps, it's the parents who are more frantic than their wards. There are parents who force their children to dance, much against their wishes. Their sole wish is to see their kids performing on stage. It hardly matters to them whether their kids are into it or not.
There are yet another set of parents who train their kids solely for competitions. There's but a handful who gives their kids what they want. Such parents are never aware of the ins and outs of competitions, but bring their kids in on the sole strength of their sure talents. If the kids respond and are willing to learn, they can be trained, if not, the parents are to be told of the futility of their efforts. There are parents who are willing to accept such feedback. And this is precisely what Malavika does. She is blunt about the truth.
“Whatever be the situation, I tell them that it's impossible to turn them into dancers overnight and get them ready for stage performances,” says Malavika. Let the kids love their dance, delve deep into it. Only those who really love to dance will stay. It's these kids that Malavika turns into dancers. She is averse to training kids for the sole purpose of performing in competitions. And true to say, all of Malavika's students are committed to dance and view their art form in all reverence.
A long-cherished dream
The Siva Parvathy Cultural Organisation which Malavika set up in Venjarammoodu near Thiruvananthapuram, was the result of a long-cherished dream. It began as a school for dance and later on, turned into an organized body, thanks to the encouragement and help rendered by artistic greats like Kavalam Narayana Panicker. For three years, she has been holding an art show called Chilanka Arts Fest. A lot of dance forms like Kathak and Manipuri have performed during these shows, all by artistes from their respective states.
“I’ve always been troubled by our art forms that are fading into oblivion and always wanted to revive them. It’s these sentiments that motivated me to initiate Chilanka Art Fest.
Malavika has plans to convert the arts fest into the Chilanka Rural Tourism Arts Fest and is currently working on it. There are art forms that are dying or fading from popular memory. They lurk everywhere. They need to be brought back to life, says the dancer. These art and dance forms lie low in remote areas. So do their artefacts. The art forms need to be showcased in public forums. The Rural Tourism Fest concept is to give these art forms a platform to perform. At the same time, one can bring several of India's exquisite art forms to Kerala where they can get a wide viewership.
Family, the biggest support
“I carry my family and my profession with equal love and ease”, says Malavika. And this is possible only if one's partner is supportive, she adds. There are several girls for whom dance is worship, struggle to master it, but are forced to give it all up post marriage, says Malavika.
“It’s impossible to carry on what you love after marriage if the family is unsupportive. I’m lucky in that I got the full backing of my family”, says the complete artiste. The family is totally in sync with her plans and dreams for the fest. A lot of plans are in fact being executed by her husband. She finds this a divine intervention, a blessing, in fact. She has a nine-year-old son who is also into all their plans. Now that’s one artiste who feels fulfilled.