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Dedicated to dance

RANEE KUMAR

Dance Her family has a major role to play in her success, says Parvati Ghantasala


Parvati counts herself extremely fortunate to have entered the Ghantasala family fold.



Never-say-die attitude Parvati Ghantasala.

Some rebel to pursue their line of thinking; some others take to persuasion to traverse the path of their liking while there is another class that, by sheer dint of their excellence, propels others to toe their line of passion. Parvati Ghantasala falls in the last category. With her conservative background, learning dance and trying to make it a profession was like blasphemy. But what is ordained cannot be denied. Also, the family stationed in Chennai was an added advantage. Sensing her child's twinkle toes, Parvati's mother put her under a dance teacher who lived “right across our house.” That was an important point since “my father could not raise an objection to a girl in the family dancing as he hardly missed my presence for a hour or two and I could always sneak back quietly after my dance class and take up my books,” says Parvati in a reminiscent mood. She was in the city recently for a programme with Sica.

The turning point of the father nurturing his daughter's desire to dance came with the shelangai puja ( gajja puja /arangetram). “He had no clue how far I had advanced in my chosen field. But an arangetram needed funds and he had to be approached. My mother relied on her brothers to broach the topic with my father. All of us were scared that he would call it off. Finally he relented and in 1978 I took the first step on stage,” she says adding, “The most shocking part of my dance event was my father's total cooperation. He was so impressed by my performance that he decided to encourage me to further hone my artistic skills and turn into a professional dancer. It was the greatest day in my life.”

Her guru Krishnakumari Narendran was only too happy to mould her dedicated, diligent disciple into a graceful, glowing dancer. Parvati counts herself extremely fortunate to have entered the Ghantasala family fold. Her high regard for the family in very visible. “I went into an even more artistic family. My father-in-law was a great playback singer and my husband Ravi is also on the technical side of music; so they were like a blessing to me. More than all this, my mother-in-law Sarala took my mother's place in keeping my dance going, till date. I then learnt the veena and Kathak though finally I chose to concentrate on Bharatanatyam alone,” she elaborates.

Her school ‘Kalapradarshini', now in its 13th year, is into music and dance festivals on a regular basis besides training the 100 pupils. She is into group choreography and many of her productions have walked away with laurels. “My first attempt at choreography was Thyagaraja's Pancharatna Keertana which was inaugurated by Semmangudi. I had all the greats in music unveiling my productions which to me was a matter of great consequence. MS amma launched my ballet on Annamayya at Tirumala. K.J. Yesudas sang the title song for my Ucchi tilakam ballet which went on the Podhugai channel.”

Apart from staging ballets, Parvati also worked with the best film music directors like Rajkumar Bharati and Gajendran in choreographing title songs. Her dance presentation Gana Gandharva… a garland of choicest songs culled out of her father-in-law Ghantasala's chartbusters, was a runaway hit when it was staged in 2007. She works like a clock in shaping up her students as also with new productions and also taking care of her household. But there is a never-say-die attitude about Parvati.

“Titles, awards, recognition are like tonic to an artist to keep her going,” she says candidly. “If I am given a place of honour wherever I go, I owe this to the great Ghantasala family, more so my late father-in-law. The fragrance of a string of jasmine flowers lingers on the thread which weaved them long after they fade away. My proximity to such a family has rubbed off some greatness on to me also,” she signs off.

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