For Japanese and French, Madras is warm



Madras-based dancer and teacher A. Lakshman is guru to many foreign dancers. And they seem to learn more than just adavus and thillanas.

Feature by Aruna. S / KuctheriBuzz Staff/ Madras

Madras based Bharatanatyam dancer A. Lakshman has been a strict teacher to many.

Having groomed himself to perfection, he has in the past few years contributed to the top performance levels of some of the star dancers today like Urmila Satyanarayanan and Priyadarshini Govind. Hailing from Malaysia and a disciple of Guru K.J. Sarasa, Lakshman now runs his own dance school, 'Nrithya Lakshana' in Madras. And at this institute, you see not only kids training in Bharatanatyam, but also a host of students from Japan, France, Germany and elsewhere.

And at the Natyanjali dance festival in Chidambaram this year, Lakshman performed with his students from Japan and France. Two of them, Saiko Yamamoto and Yuwa Yokota gave solo performances under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts in Madras recently.

In a chat with KutcheriBuzz, these dancers share their experiences and what the dance scene is like, back home.

Charlotte has been learning Bharatanatyam for the last three years at Paris, France from Shalini and Silvi (a disciple of M.K. Saroja). In 2001, at a dance fest in Paris, she met Lakshman who had accompanied Priyadarsini Govind on a dance tour. And from December 2002, Charlotte has been a student of Lakshman for six months now, learning new pieces. She says, " At Paris, Indian culture is becoming fashionable. A lot of people attend dance performances".

Marie Achache, who is from Grenoble (from south of France) met Lakshman in the year 2000 and has now been training under him for three months. She says about her teacher, "I enjoyed learning from Lakshman. He is so flexible. He understands each student and trains us accordingly." Marie is the President of the 'Art and Read Association' which invites artistes from India and organises programmes along with the Triveni Association (headed by Velumohan) in France. Adds Marie, "In France, there is a lot of interest for Bharatanatyam and the audience is well informed. They can choose the artistes they want to see or learn from". (Marie can be contacted at e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Saiko Yamamoto from Japan started learning dance about ten years ago when she saw a Japanese dancer perform Bharatanatyam. She initially trained under a Japanese teacher who belonged to the Kalakshetra style. In 1995, she came to India and trained at Shree Bharatalaya, Madras and later under Lakshman. And now Saiko knows quite a few pieces from the Bharatanatyam repertoire, she regularly performs and also teaches in Japan. She says, "I have ten students and the youngest is 20 years old! And the age group of my students vary from 40 to 53 years. But, they learn yoga and their bodies are flexible. Here in Japan, children are not generally initiated into dance. Only after college, they can choose what they want to do. And now, there are many Indian artistes visiting Japan, so people see their performances and then decide to learn." Besides dance, Saiko also works with a hospital.

Yuwa Yokota is a theatre artiste and she first came to India in 1988 on an international exchange programme sponsored by the Japanese Government. During her stay here, she developed an interest in classical dance and since 1995, started learning from a Japanese teacher. Yuwa who has been performing too in Japan has been training under Lakshman since last year.

Saiko and Yuwa say that there are many Japanese women taking to Indian classical dance and there is quite a huge Indian dance community there. Some of the dancers who have been in the field for several years now are Yukiyo Kubota, Kyoko Nobi, Yumiko Tanaka, Machiko Lakshmi, Yoko Ozawa, Tomiko Daya and Akemi Sakurai.

No wonder, it is the 'worldstage' that one speaks of today. From the halls of R.R. Sabha or The Music Academy in Madras, Bharatanatyam is showcased today all over the globe, and contributing to this are dancers like Lakshman and many more, who sweat it out through the year. Is it time for an arts council to streamline activities and present the Indian classical dancers and their works in a more organised way? One that works effectively though.

Lakshman can be contacted at No.44, 6th Main Road, Anna Nagar, Chennai. Ph: 044-26194904. Mobile: 98401-36009 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.