In the old corporation school hall in Egmore, where Pandanallur Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Subbaraya Pillai conducted classes during the early years of my training, there were two windows, which we students faced as we danced. Once, a particularly mischievous child from a neighbouring house kept peeping through the bars and making funny faces at me. Momentarily distracted by her antics, I forgot the adavu sequence I was dancing and faltered. I remember as if it were yesterday, my mother's admonition after class, when I tried explaining that my error was only a small one, for which the naughty girl next door was to blame...."Dance is tapas; it’s a sacred commitment. When you go on the floor, every atom of your being should be tuned into the dance - and on nothing but the dance. Even a hundred monkeys capering around the windows should not make you lose focus." It was a cardinal principle that shaped my approach to practice.
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