In the Indian culture, classical dance has a lot of significance. It is not merely meant for entertaining oneself, but it serves as a fabulous way to express the innate feelings of heart. Sunita Menon, one of the leading Bharatnatyam dancers in India, is known for her complete dedication to classical art form and particularly for her abhinaya, clarity of line and strong rhythmic command. She is counted amongst the most proficient Bharatnatyam dancers of India. Each dancer has his or her own idea of what Bharatnatyam is–so has Sunita Menon. She believes that Bharatnatyam is like a connection with God. Sunita is well-versed with other dance forms as well like Kathakali and jazz-dancing. She believes in trying her hand in all the dance forms.
She started dancing at the age of seven. “My mother used to take me for drawing classes but when those drawing classes turned into dance classes I also don’t know. It was not pre-planned but it just happened or it could be said that I am dancer by default,” said Sunita Menon while talking to Uday India.
Sunita has gone through quite a smooth journey. She received her training form Delhi University, but she was introduced to real form of the dance by the late Sujata Dinesh at Rukamini Devi Lalit Kala Kendra. Thereafter, she started performing on stage and never looked back. She also received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
At present Sunita is specialising and performing Bharatnatyam under her guru Justin McCathy. To perfect her art form she is learning under his guidance. McCathy is an American-born Indian citizen, and specialised in Kalakshetra style. “He is the perfect guru one can have. His performances are just mesmerising. One just cannot blink his/her eyes while watching him perform. He is my ideal in life,” says Sunita.
Sunita has performed the lead female role in virtually all Justin McCarthy’s dance drama. She played Andal in Mystic Bride and Shakuntala in Abhigyanashakuntalam. “I have performed in many shows but this was the one that led to the turning point in my life. Since then, there has been an improvisation in my personal and professional life,” divulges Sunita.
Sunita wants to follow in her guru’s footsteps and wants to reach the same pinnacle as her guru has. She therefore, has devoted her whole life to the cause of learning and practicing the dance form for the coming generation. She now owns a dance school called Kaladarpanam where she teaches absolutely pure Bharatnatyam dance. At present 70 students are enrolled in the school. When asked that Bharatnatyam is losing its originality and relevance, She replied: “Experimentation goes on and it’s good too. If we talk about the relevance of Bharatnatyam, it can be gauged by the fact that it is 3000-year-old South Indian dance form, and still it has the enchanting and captivating capacity to attract dancers around the world. Since I opened this school, the graph has always registered the upside trend.” “Under the aegis of Kaladarppanam, we would like to extend our support to the underprivileged societies too. India can boast of an innumerable number of folk dances, each dance form highlighting the specialty of a particular region or tribe. Each form has its own specialty and grace.,” adds Sunita.
By Vaishali Tanwar