“Madam, where is Thanjavur?,” asked Narayan Kate as soon as he learned from his Guru (Rekha Hegde, danseuse) that this time, their dance troupe will be performing in the Big temple at Thanjavur. And, Narayan’s teacher replied, “Thanjavur is in TamilNadu. There are beautiful temples in Thanjavur. You should see all the temples in Thanjavur when you go there.”
It was built in 1010 A. D by RajaRaja Chola, also popularly known as Brihadishwara temple. It just turned 1000 years old in 2010, and remainsIndia’s largest temple. Most tourists are awestruck by the beauty of this temple’s architecture. The temple has also been providing a platform for classical dancers who have excelled in the art form of Bharatnatyam, due to which many danseuse dream of performing here.
The dream has come true to Rekha Hegde (danseuse inBelgaum) and her students who will be performing on 18th April at Chinna Mela festival in Thanjavur.
As soon as I entered Shantala Natyalaya to catch a glimpse of their dance rehearsals, I could see girls dressed in simple salwar-kameez, each one’s dupatta tied across their waist, they were singing. The song was loud, but as they notice my presence, the loud sound slowly descended. Rekha Hegde was sitting on the chair singing and playing the Natvangam. She smiled and called out to her bunch of fortunate students who were going to Thanjavur.
There were two teams, 6 in each group. Rekha Hegde informs that she would be giving a Solo performance. They began their rehearsals from 26th March, and their rehearsals are going in full swing. Every year, at Chinna Mela festival, there will be array of dance performances at the Big temple. From Karnataka, Rekha Hegde ofBelgaumand Sana Bhat of Hubli will be performing Bharatnatyam this year.
Their rehearsals start at6 pmand only conclude at 9:30 pm. Dance choreography was done within 8 days of rehearsals. “I am very happy that I got this opportunity to perform in Thanjavur,” said Rekha Hegde.
Rekha Hegde’s troupe will be performing repertoire of items that include; Pushpanjali, Ganeshotsava, Jatiswara, Keerthanam, Varanam, Padam, Ashtothara and Thillana. These songs are in Sanskrit and Tamil languages. Rekha Hegde will be singing and playing Natvangam for her student’s performances, while her student (Jyoti Bhat) will sing and Keerti Shetty will play Natvangam for her. Their performance is scheduled for 2 hours.
She got this lifetime opportunity (as she calls it) when her friend, Selvi asked her whether she would like to perform at the festival. “I said, yes. I was waiting to perform in Thanjavur. I visited that place as a tourist and the temple is so beautiful. I am now getting this chance to perform, and I didn’t want to lose it. It was my dream to perform in this temple,” added Rekha.
Rekha’s students who will be performing in Thanjavur are; Arpita Halkatti, Vishaka Hegde, Deepti Shetty, Anushree Bhatia, Arpita Megharaj, Sahana Sholapuri, Ambalakshmi, Chetana Bhat, Narayan Kate, Sriraksha, Ramya Kulkarni and Nishigandh Kanurkar.
Arpita Halkatti (GIT college): We won’t get such an opportunity ever, again. Our Guru has told us a lot about the Thanjavur temple. We are all very curious and excited to see the place.
Deepti Shetty (St Josephschool): I had my SSLC exams during dance rehearsals. I used to come here to take a break from my studies. With these rehearsals I used to get rejuvenated. We are all going to Thanjavur for the first time, I am very happy.
Anushree Bhatia (St Xavier’s school): I am looking forward for my Guru’s performance. I want to watch her dance. Even though I have seen her performances before, I want to see many more.
Arpita Megharaj (St Josephschool): Going to Thanjavur for the performance is one reason. Another would be, traveling long distance all together would be great fun.
Ambalakshmi (Vanita Vidyalaya school): I have heard a lot about Thanjavur temple. I am very excited to see the temple. We are also going to perform in front of Nataraja. I am very happy.