It’s not often that one comes across someone of Northeast Indian descent to be adept at a South Indian dance form. But Charles Ma is full of surprises. With a father of Chinese and Nepali Hindu origins and a Christian mother from Assam, Charles was born in and has lived his whole life in Bangalore.
SNUB THAT HURT It was when he was snubbed by a senior dancer, he says, that he felt challenged to learn Bharatnatyam and be the best at it. He began training with Vidya Shimladka in 2002, but when she got married and moved away, he switched to the tutelage of Poornima Ashok. When ‘Saarang,’ the annual cultural festival of Iit-chennai was announced in 2006, Charles decided to try his luck. There were 48 women and two men participants. And he won first place. About a year ago he gave his first major stage perform- ance at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan in Bangalore, which exploded in rave reviews that described the new dancer to have ‘flawless footwork’ among other positives. Since then, he’s given up advertising to pursue what he says is his true calling. NEXT The aspiring artist says he wants to be the best Bharatnatyam dancer in India. “I’ve been told by people that it won’t happen especially because I’m a man. But I think I’m special, I’ll make it.”
“There’s a freshness and spontaneity to his dance. He’s got a good connect with the audience and has a great future ahead of him.” LAKSHMI GOPALASWAMY, CLASSICAL DANSEUSE AND ACTOR
“I don’t have time for marriage. There is no room for anyone apart from me and dance. You have to make sacrifices for your art.”