Dancing all over the world
DANCE has allowed artist Verushka Pather to travel and perform around the world, meeting new and interesting people, one of whom is now her husband.
“I owe everything I am and know to my Sadhana of dance.
“It has led to the creation of our children, our home, my dance centre and all our blessings,” said the 40-year-old Bharatha Nathyam exponent.
She is married to specialist paediatrician Dr Kamendran Pather and they live in Ballito with their children, Darshan Hariharan, 10, Tahren Mohan, seven, and Odyana Katyayini Devi, two.
Pather, who matriculated at Woolhope Secondary School in Malabar, Port Elizabeth, has a diploma in creative movement therapy from The Spastic Society of India, which is in Chennai, and a degree in Fine Arts specialising in Bharatha Natyam.
She intends to enrol for post- graduate studies in dance through the Chidambaram University in India.
For Pather, who has always wanted to learn, perform and study the classical arts, she is living her dream.
She has performed at the Krishna Balram Temple in Vrindavan and at the Tirupati Tirumala Brahmotsavam.
“I have also been awarded the title Natya Poorna, which means ‘complete artist’, from my gurus for being one of the youngest and most successful artists in South Africa.”
For the past 16 years, Pather has been running the Natya Ananda Fine Arts Academy and is committed to teaching and spreading the rich cultural heritage of Bharatha Natyam.
“It is our contribution that will ensure the essential standard is maintained and that the art is not watered down for future generations,” she said.
Speaking about her journey in dance, she said: “As a child, I have always loved the performing arts.
“It started off as just learning folk items and then one day I had the opportunity to view a group of visiting Bharatha Natyam dancers from Kalakshetra and it was clear to me then that this was my soul’s purpose.”
She joined the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy in PE headed by Smt. Savitri Naidoo.
“At the school, I was tutored in the traditional folk dances of India by senior disciples, who instilled in me my love, passion and dedication to the art.”
After matriculating, and with the emotional and financial support of her family, Pather decided to head for Chennai in 1996 to further her dance studies.
She attended the premier Bharata Kalanjali dance institute run by the renowned dancing couple, the Dhananjayans. “It was a n e r v o u s and intimidating few weeks, but I slowly settled in and adjusted to the routine e i g h t - hour day
of extreme physical exercise and focused on the theory and history of dance.
“I was blessed to have the personal time and attention of Master Dhananjayan and Shanta Akka, who shared all the nuances of the ancient art of Bharatha Natyam,” she added.
Pather had private classes and her arangetram (on-stage performance) followed a mere two years later in front of 300 family members and guests at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore. She was 21-years-old. “I was absolutely nervous as the expectations were so great.
“There was also a desire to excel to make my gurus proud of one of their foreign students who learnt, graduated and continued with the art.”
Her first professional performance was with Mahabharatam in 1999, which toured India.
There she met the “man of my dreams” Kamendran, who was studying medicine at Mysore Medical College.
They returned to South Africa in 2001 and married a year later.
Then she opened her holistic dance centre called Natya Ananda Fine Arts Academy.
Pather compared dance to a “gift given to one by the heavens and Gods”.
She added: “Dance has changed my life and I am completely and comprehensively committed to serving it the best that I can.”
Over the years, she has performed in Canada, Germany, Reunion Island, Mauritius and India.
“What was special for me was dancing at the Krishna Balram Temple in Vrindavan, Tirupati Tirumala Devastanams for Lord Balaji,
“I also had the privilege of dancing for former Indian president Abdul Kalam and at the Gandhi Peace Awards in honour of Mayanmar leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Pather’s production, Samudram – The Sum of Life, will be staged at The Playhouse on November 26.
She will also perform at the Delhi International Arts Festival this month.