Manjula Viswanath talks about Vazhavoor Style

Vazhvoor style and its essentials – The Vazhuvoor style focuses on the beauty of movement, picturesque poses blending with a charming graceful technique that give visual delight. The Vazhuvoor style is accredited with deep sitting positions “ARDHA MANDI”. The dance-steps are crisp and intricate but combined with beautiful eye and body movement which are elaborate

Training students and teaching techniques – My skills in training senior and junior students comes from learning and watching my guru Padmini Ravi, Bangalore. As I grew into a senior student under her tutelage teaching was also introduced to me by my teacher Padmini. The key to my teaching comes from experience and using my creativity in bringing out the best in every student. Basics in Bharatanatyam is critical, when I say basics they include ardha mandi and anga suddhi and I make sure all my students get that from day one. Even today I practise to make sure my basics are with me. Every student is different but my main aim is to bring out the best in them. I am able to gauge a student’s capacity to learn and perform. At the same time I make sure children enjoy dance and dance from their heart and not for parent or the guru sake.

Selection of songs, why and how – Dancing from the age of 5 years I have been exposed to carnatic songs both from a song/dance perspective as well as just a pure carnatic song concert. I have been listening and singing to Carnatic songs from a young age. I have attended numerous dance & carnatic concerts which exposed me to songs . I can always remember an array of song. This exposure to songs is very critical for a dance teacher & in this forthcoming event case Story on Krishna (Adhuram Madhuram) again I had start selecting songs for the occasion on Krishna. I had to keep in mind the age group of children involved. As this story involves different stages of Krishna, I had to choose music which would suit from the young to old. Compositions mainly consist of Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaier, Subramanya Pillai, Jayadeva’s Astapadi, Purandara Dasa, Subramanya Bharatiyar, Muttu Swamy Dikshitar etc.

Choreographed production – I give my total involvement, infusion of emotional depth into characters, the gamut of emotions that provides me the impetus to choreograph the show in my mind. I spend a lot of time understanding the story its intricacies and how dance can bring this story to life. Once I have this played numerous times in my mind I then the process of selecting students who will fit these roles. I have a strong understanding on my students abilities and based on how they fit the character I choose the students. This entire production has been choreographed by me. And I actually offer this to my gurus without whom I don’t think I could do all this.

In portraying what your guru has taught you, to what extend have you added or changed or modified to suit each child’s ability and levels. What my guru has taught me is invaluable. The basics in Bharatanyatam like the adavus. Aramandi has been given extreme importance as these create the correct posture and also challenge the dancer to perform with proper basics. Once this is in place the dance is taken to another level. I have a similar style of dancing to my teacher Padmini and I can see that in my students as well. But the important thing is using my creativity and imagination to choreagraph the dance has been my success mantra. Again with students I know what each student can do and cannot. Each student has her own growth graph and ability and I can clearly visualise what level the student can show on the stage.