For Gayathri Vijayalakshmi, it’s never too old to dance

Age has not come in the way of the dancer’s passion for Bharatanatyam. She performs in Thiruvananthapuram on May 19

When it comes to pursuing her passion for Bharatanatyam, age is just a number for Gayathri Vijayalakshmi. “I am 57 now. It was at the age of 52 that I took to dance again, after a gap of 26 years. In the last five years, I have performed on over 35 stages,” says Gayathri.

She is all set for a Bharatanatyam recital on May 19. “I haven’t given a solo performance showcasing the traditional format of Bharatnatyam, with sections such as varnam, padam, keerthanam and thillana. So this is more like an arangetram (debut) for me,” says Gayathri.

Gayathri, former professor and head, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, TKM College of Engineering (TKMCE), Kollam, had started learning dance at the age of nine and began Bharatanatyam at the age of 14. A native of Nangiarkulangara near Haripad, she used to travel all the way to Kollam to learn from veteran PG Janardhanan master. “Later, when I joined TKMCE for engineering, I continued classes under him,” says Gayathri.

Post marriage, she moved to Thiruvananthapuram and became a student of guru V Mydhili of Midhilalaya Dance Academy. “Alongside, I finished my post graduation from College of Engineering Trivandrum,” she says. That was when Doordarshan started Malayalam broadcasting and Gayathri was among the announcers. She also acted in a Malayalam play telecast by the national broadcaster. By then, she had got a job in her alma mater. Very soon, she had to bid adieu to dance with her first child on the way.

“But I always wanted to get back to dance. I waited till my daughter got married. My children, Unnimaya G and Yadukrishnan G, also wanted me to dance again. And Mydhili teacher was more than happy to restart my lessons and within a year, I started performing with her students at various programmes,” she says.

Gayathri says that it wasn’t easy getting back to dance after such a long gap. “My body had become so stiff that I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to dance at all. Also, it was not easy for me to follow the steps and memorise them. So Mydhili teacher would make a video of each session so that I could practise the steps at home. And my batchmates, most of them school children, have always been there to support and encourage me,” Gayathri says.

At her solo recital, Gayathri will perform a Ganapathi stuthi, followed by a varnam, padam, keerthanam, Meenakshy thalattu and thillana. “I am excited, not nervous. I am doing this for my happiness and satisfaction. At the same time, I don’t want to let down my children, my teacher and all those who made this possible,” she says.

Gayathri Vijayalakshmi’s performance is at Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan on May 19 at 7 pm.

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