She started learning Bharatanatyam when she was two and a half – at an age she could not even pronounce the word properly. But today, when Rajashree Das looks back, she knows it was always her true calling. While she finds it hard to articulate why she took up dance, she knows why she loves it so much. On the one hand, dance gives her an identity and on the other hand it liberates her from the same imprisoning identity. Currently the Director of Nrithyathi Kalakshetram (Bangalore), Rajashree has been a disciple of Guru Dr. G. Ratheesh Babu for the last 27 years.

According to Rajashree, respect, humility and discipline are what one needs to become a performing artist. She elaborates, “Respect towards the art, your teacher and fellow artists; Humility irrespective of your status, talent, fame, achievements; and a strong sense of Discipline in everything that you do (being on time for rehearsals, practising every day, or even something as small as ensuring that you iron your costumes before every show and do not go up there on stage in unkempt clothes!)” 

In spite of some major injuries and serious illnesses in the past where doctors prescribed that she would never dance again, Rajashree, never gave up and literally went through the physical process of unlearning and re-learning, not just once, but twice! She never once thought of giving up. In fact, all the setbacks were strong enough to pull her down, but none of them were strong enough to keep her there.

Rajashree feels that dancing as a profession is no different from any other profession. And people (both, artists and audience) should stop treating this as an “exceptional” or “different” career. This change in mind-set is what she wishes to see in the upcoming generation of dancers. For those doing exceptionally well, this thinking will keep them grounded and for those struggling, it would keep them motivated. And to all the aspiring dancers, she would like to share an important message, “Pursue this field because you want to; not in order to fulfil someone else’s dreams or to meet others’ expectations. Work hard each day to become a better dancer for yourself, not to prove a point or your worth to anyone else. Learn from each day, each performance, every experience, every artist that you meet along the way on this journey. And once you learn, don’t just keep this wisdom to yourself. Spread it and share it with everyone that you can – as a learner, teacher, performer, connoisseur or critic. That will only make you a wiser and a finer artiste.”

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