Dr Rekha Raju, the dual doctorate Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam exponent with a social bend of mind
Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam exponent Dr. Rekha Raju also encourages talents of girls from underprivileged community
Trained Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam exponent, equally at ease with Carnatic vocals, adept at Mridangam, also designs her own sarees and ear rings, apart from having a double doctorate, this multi-talented artist is also training scores of girls from under privileged section of the society. Meet Dr. Rekha Raju, the charming girl with a cheerful disposition that might give you an impression for the girl next door. Down to earth, she wears many hats.
An Indian Classical dancer and teacher, Dr. Rekha Raju is one of the known faces of the performing arts of Mohiniyattam. She is also a Chartered Accountant. With her roots in Palakkad, Kerala, Dr. Rekha Raju is also equally at ease with Bharatanatyam stream. The committed artist that she is, Dr. Rekha Raju has been performing Mohiniyattam across the country for many years now. Known for her innate artistry, authentic presentation, graceful style and ultimate perfection, it is a visual treat for the audience who go spellbound, while Dr. Rekha Raju performs on stage. Also a teacher of immense repute, Dr. Rekha Raju is presently training in excess of 400 students at her Bangalore-based Nrithya Dhama Temple of Fine Arts, guiding these aspiring artists to carry the torch of excellence and the cultural legacy of our great nation, India.
The genesis of the evolution of Dr. Rekha Raju stemmed from thought of her mother Jayalakshmi, who had actually yearning her daughter to be professionally trained in Bharatanatyam, one of the top notch dance forms of India. Dr. Rekha Raju began training Bharatanatyam from her first Guru, Padmini Ramachandran, who instilled in the young Rekha the love for dance and nurtured her inborn talent. Rightly so, Dr. Rekha Raju was initiated into the words of mudras and movements at the tender age of three and she was absorbed into stage shows within six months of beginning the lessons. Subsequently, Dr. Rekha Raju was trained intensively under the tutelage of Kalamandalam Usha Datar, Raju Datar, Gopika Varma and Prof Janardhanan, who launched her career in Mohiniyattam.
Over the years, Dr. Rekha Raju has been performing Mohiniyattam, extensively touring the rural parts of India including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Hyderabad and more in an apparent effort to promote this sinuous art form. What’s more, Dr. Rekha Raju’s solo performance has been the highlight of events as the Delhi International Festival, Kajuraho Dance Festival, Konark Dance Festival, Chennai Seasonal Dance Festival, Vishwa Kannada Sammelan at Belgaum in Karnataka and Andhra Music and Dance Festival. The Tanjavur Dance Festival, where 1,000 dancers performed and found a place in the Limca Book of Records, also featured high on her list of performances.
Dr. Rekha Raju, the ardent and passionate lover of dance has two doctoral degrees to her credit including a PhD in Fine Arts from Heidelberg University in Germany. Her passion for dance and her commitment to the art has been recognised by institutions and agencies pan India. Also, Dr. Rekha Raju represents Mohiniyattam in the Expert Committee Panel of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Furthermore, Dr. Rekha Raju is also the recipient of the coveted Yuva Kala Bharathi Award and the Bharath Nritya Samrat Award in 2016. Many accolades followed the Mohiniyattam exponent such as Bangalore Tamil Sangam, choosing her as the Best Young Dancer to promote Indian Art. She also holds the title, Swarna Mukhi given by the Kalahalli Temple Trust. On the invitation of the University of Nagpur, Dr. Rekha Raju has also organised workshops for college and school students in order to hone their skills of Mohiniyattam. Nritya Rejini, Nrithya Kaumudi, Yuva Kala Pratibha and Nritya Varsha Deepika are few other titles that had come Dr. Rekha Raju’s way.
When asked about Nrithya Dhama, the centre for dancce and musicc in Bangalore, Dr. Rekha Raju says. “The thought was borne out my love and passion for dance. Here, students are trained in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Carnatic vocals, Mridangam and other form of arts. Nrithya Dhama is an initiative to promote the classical dance form as well as to encourage the talents of girls from the underprivileged community. Along with youngsters, my students include homemakers and professionals who are recapturing their childhood dream of dance. Students from various overseas universities also get trained here as part of exchange programmes.”
It is not dance alone that Dr. Rekha Raju is committed to. She works with NGOs to help in the holistic development of the marginalised children. A socially responsible artiste, Dr. Rekha Raju is going ahead with the determination to impart knowledge about India’s ancient art forms and to help people find the rhythm of life through dance.
“My family are my parents and I have lot of friends and well-wishers and of course, my own academy Nrithya Dhama Temple of Fine Arts are my world. I have more than 350 students and their parents, their aunties, uncles, grandparents, neighbours…I think they are a big family and everybody, right from their parents and grandparents, we all share a relationship that is just not about coming to the academy, learning and going back and it is much more than that. I make it a point to have personal relationship with them.
I am an emotional person and I feel that in humans love and respect towards each other is most important rather than them just coming here, pay the fee and go back. It is not that and I teach lot of underpriveleged children in my academy, but not one can sense the under previleged are and who the people born with silver spoons in the mouths. Everybody learns under the same roof, learn the same thing and get the same amount of love and respect from us and that is what makes Nrithya Dhama very special place.
Irrespective of the age group, our kitchen door is always open for them. My parents are also like that. Those who come to learn in our academy can visit the kitchen and have coffee, which will always be made and kept. We also keep lot of fruits for our students. My parents serve them coffee and fruits and treat them like their own children. So we are a happy bunch of an extended family and that is why Nrithya Dhama has a reputation for relationship building, Dr. Rekha Raju signs off.