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.

Verushka Pather

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