Hailing from the picturesque village of Vellinezhi in Kerala, Saritha Kalakshetra is a professionally trained Bharatanatyam dancer who has conquered stages across the country with her graceful performances. Her first stage performance was for a folk dance competition at her anganavadi school at the young age of two and a half years. Her first teacher was Subhadra Chechi who taught her the entire act to be performed and at the end of the day Saritha went home with the trophy in her hands. But it was not until her high school years that she formally began to get trained in Bharatanatyam. Her mother had not been keen on her taking up dancing as a career and stood firmly against it. But her father and sister were staunch supporters and finally her mother had to give in and let her pursue her dreams. At the time of her pre-degree, Saritha applied for a course in Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai. It was a 6 year diploma and post-diploma course and laid the stepping stones for her success in the field. She says “I was one of the few students who came to Kalakshetra without a formal training to rely on. I had to put in extended practice hours to make sure that I keep up with the others initially. But this helped me set the bar higher, practice harder and aim farther. “
What attracted Saritha to Bharatanatyam at first were the mesmerizing costumes that the dancers wore. As she dived deeper into the art form, the beauty and rhythm that it offered was an enticing feature. But she has also tried her hand at other dance forms. Saritha has trained under renowned Mohiniyattom tutor Vineetha Nedungadi for a while. But she soon realized that her Bharatanatyam performances began to show traces of Mohiniyattom and thus slowly dropped out of that.
Through the Kalakshetra Foundation, Saritha had the opportunity to perform across various stages in India. She also got the golden chance to be part of the centenary celebrations of renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Rukmini Devi. The Salabhanjika team also recently had the good fortune of associating with her for our own production ‘Gajaangan - Oru Naatyabhashyam’, in which Saritha performed the role of Ganapathi – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi’s son. Saritha also has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in Bharatanatyam from Bharatidasan University. Until recently, she was in Dubai as a faculty with the Kalakshetra wing there.
Her favorite items in dance are usually Thillana and Varnam. After a deeper understanding of the art’s intricacies, Saritha realized the beauty of slow tempo pieces like Padams with Nayika Nayaka Bhavam. Saritha remains in awe of her guru Sheejith Krishna under whom she has been training now. She considers him as her role model and source of inspiration.
Saritha’s love for the dance form is reflected in her work with Natyapoorna – a fine arts course in dance, music and painting initiated by the Central government through Bharath Sevak Samaj. Along with retired professor and Kathakali artist Dr. C P Unnikrishnan, she has been instrumental in setting up the dance syllabus for the course.
Every dancer is also inherently a choreographer. Saritha is no different. Her efforts in choreography have been in items such as varnam, padam and pushpanjali to begin with. This is a field that she will be taking up on a serious note soon and is definitely something to watch out for. Saritha plans to move back to Dubai and start her own dance school there, imparting her love for dance to her student, at the same time opening up new doors for her passion to flourish.
Team Salabhanjika wishes her the best in achieving her dreams.