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In the footsteps of her mentors

M Jaya Khavi, winner of AIDA Natvar Gopikrishna award 2018. Photo: M. Srinath

M Jaya Khavi has won the Natvar Gopikrishna National Award at the 10-day festival of dance and music organised by All India Dancers’ Association (AIDA) in Bhilai, Chattisgargh. It would be justifiable to feel a little proud of oneself. But the Tiruchi-based Bharatanayam dancer and trainer is quick to deflect the praise to the two women who guided her on the way to perfection.

“My success is completely due to the work and encouragement of my mother K Jothi and guru Supriya Ravikumar, both of whom I call ‘Amma’,” she says.

The 61st AIDA festival, held from October 21-28, had competitions in over 50 categories of dance and music (vocal and instrumental), and attracted participants from all over the country.

Jaya Khavi, a student of Tiruchi’s Sri Priyalaya Arts Academy (SPAA) since an early age, was adjudged to be the best of 320 senior entrants in the Bharatanatyam category. SPAA founder Supriya was honoured with the Nrithya Kalaacharya award. Besides Jaya Khavi, 12 SPAA students participated in 49 events (in solos and group performances), winning multiple prizes, and earning the 23-year-old school the Best Classical Institution award from AIDA.

A new perspective

How did Jaya Khavi manage to focus on her performance knowing that she would be getting married shortly after the competition? “That’s one of the first lessons that classical dance teaches you. You learn to concentrate on the art, and still achieve your daily targets. Bharatanatyam has given me a new perspective on life,” she says.

A graduate in Visual Communications (Holy Cross College) and Bharatanatyam (Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts), the young dancer is a familiar face on the local classical dance circuit.

It was third time lucky for Jaya Khavi, who presented a condensed Swarajathi (a combination of musical notes and rhythmic syllables) in the first round of the AIDA festival, and a Carnatic style Shiva-stuthi in the second.

“When I had failed earlier, my mother and Supriya Amma would encourage me to correct my mistakes and try again. This prize is as much a result of their patience as of my talent,” she says.

Art and life

As she prepares to shift to Hyderabad after marriage, Jaya Khavi wants to strike the ideal work-life balance. “I hope my spouse will understand my responsibilities as a performer. I would like to continue to dance, choreograph and teach after marriage,” she says.

All praise for her mother’s many sacrifices in putting her through dance lessons, Jaya Khavi says she would like other young students to pay full attention to their art. “I don’t want other people to pity me for the hard life that I have had. Instead, I want them to be inspired by my journey as a dancer and utilise the opportunities that life has given them to the best extent,” she says.

She reveres her guru, who has been beyond a teacher, a steadfast mentor. “She has taught all her students to have a goal, not just as a performer, but as an individual, and how to work towards it with the support of one’s family. I’m still learning, and I hope to continue to do so, from Supriya Amma.”

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