My passion for dance began early in life – a chance meeting at the Subramanyam temple in Secunderabad when I was 4 years old – a comment that “this child’s eyes are large, you must teach her dance” saw my mother Subhashini Shankar (herself a musician and violinist) enroll me with guru Sharada Keshava Rao. My initial years also saw me training with guru KN Pakkiriswamy Pillai (brother of guru KN Dandayuthapani Pillai) who then taught in Hyderabad.
My dance training continued in Hyderabad until the summer of 1973, when a mother and her very young daughter, wended their way nervously into the courtyard of a building in Chennai. They waited outside the office, after having sent in a message, eagerly waiting to be called in. But they were not summoned inside. Instead, the very person they wanted to see came out to greet them. The lady was none other than Rukmini Devi Arundale, the Director of Kalakshetra (Athai). The young girl was me, and with me was my mother. After the traditional namaskaram (bowing low) I remember asking her to bless me to be like her someday. “No, no, I bless you to be greater than me,” said the beautiful lady, swathed in a maroon silk saree, with her freshly washed hair falling down on her shoulders.
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