If getting an award is by itself a reason to celebrate, how about getting two awards during the December season?That is the accomplishment of Bharatanatyam dancer S R Meenakshi Raghavan.
She was awarded the ‘Natyakala Vipanchee’ title on December 31, 2007, by the Vipanchee sabha run by singer Balamuralikrishna.
On January 1, 2008, the title ‘Natya Sudaroli’ was conferred upon her by Apoorva Ragam Sabha. This time she was honoured by former minister Rm Veerappan.
Meenakshi, who runs the dance school ‘Vinayaga Natyalaya’ in SIngaperumal Koil, is a disciple of Kalaimamani Chandra Dhandayuthapani Pillai who is the director of ‘Natya Kalalayam’.
She was also a student of Tamil Nadu Government Music College, Adyar, from where she graduated as ‘Aadal Kalaimani’ and ‘Nattuvanga Kalaimani’.
She had already won several awards: ‘Balasaraswathi’ title in 2006; and ‘Natya Mayuri’ by Kalai Panbattu Thurai, Thoothukudi, 2007.
Her idea of starting a dance school in Singaperumal Koil, in Kancheepuram district, is to spread “our culture in the rural areas”.
“The dance of India should not only be taught to the elite but also the inquisitive learners of rural areas,” she declares.
With this aim she started teaching Bharatanatyam to people in and around Chengalpattu, Singaperumal Koil, Thirukazhukundram, Mahabalipuram, Maraimalai Nagar, Thelimedu, etc.
She says with pride that more than 300 students are now part of this institution and “the fact is that they are all not from elite groups, but are rural folk”.
Apart from being famous for her bhava, abhinaya and precision of movement, she has also proved that she is an able teacher.
The institution has been invited to perform by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation and the Department of Art and Culture in their various programmes. It has been given an opportunity to participate in the programmes conducted by ‘Iyal, Isai, Nadaga Mandram’ of Tamil Nadu.
Meenakshi has also performed in the Mahabalipuram dance festival and the Chidambaram dance festival.
But one had better beware of this charming young dancer: She holds a black belt in Karate!