I once read some beautiful lines,” I don’t want my daughter to follow my footsteps. I want her to take a path besides me and go further than I could have imagined”. This really brought out the essence of the Mother-Daughter relationship for me. Every parent wants their child to succeed in her/his professional and personal life. They guide, support, encourage, motivate the striving young blood to be able to choose their way of life and follow their passion.
We shot some questions at 4 mother daughter duos, 2 with very young daughters who have just chosen to ‘dance’ their career path and 2 whose daughters are well on their way to exploring it! Does the equation change when both, the mother –daughter are in the same profession? Is it good/bad? Nerve wrecking/Interesting…?
Let’s find out!...
In converstion with Jayashree and Sujatha Nair (Mohiniattam, Bharatnatyam), Rekha Nadgauda-Ashwini Kalsekar-Aditi Panse (Kathak), Arundhati and Sagarika Patwardhan (Bharatnatyam), Tejaswini and Sarweshwari Sathe (Kathak).
Jayashree Nair- Extremely happy, for I knew that God has fulfilled my prayers
Rekha Nadgauda- It was an ardent wish to have a baby girl ever since I wanted to have a child and for reasons which I couldn’t express. I was blessed with my elder daughter, Ashwini. My wish turned out to be true which gave me immense happiness. My prayers were once again accepted when Aditi was born. Their arrival meant the world to me and a feeling totally indescribable!
Arundhati Patwardhan- I was very happy to see her. She had lot of hair, slim and long fingers! I thought hopefully she gets into dancing with these beautiful features…
Tejaswini Sathe- When I heard that I had given birth to a daughter, no one could have been happier than me! I secretly did wish that my daughter should dance, but it was important to know first whether she had an interest in it or not.
Jayashree Nair- Most likely by default. Sujatha started watching my students and gradually joined them. I wanted her to follow my profession, but never wanted to impose it on her.
Rekha Nadgauda- In case of Ashwini, her first baby steps lead her to the dance class at the age of 1 and her answer ,” your dance student” to the question ‘who is it’ upon knocking the door, made me realize her interest in dance and slowly and gradually started with her training. On the other hand, Aditi was sharp! She had an amazing sense of ‘Laya’(rhythm) since her tender age. She would perfectly capture the beat and clapped accordingly while I rehearsed with the musicians. This quality of her was noticed by one of my musicians back then. Yes! I wanted my daughters to follow my steps! That was one of the major reasons why I wanted daughters. This wish was secretly imparted from the womb itself! Infact, both of them expressed their inclination towards dance through their actions even before I started with the training.
Arundhati Patwardhan- I wanted Sagarika to do whatever she wished. But she should do that with full dedication. Initially she used to come to dance class with me. But then sports got her attention. So I let her do what she wanted till the time she herself came to me and said she wants to learn dancing. But since then she is dedicatedly pursuing it.
Tejaswini Sathe- Sarveshwari , grew up around the sounds of ghungroos, as the practice sessions used to be at home when she was little. But unfortunately when I used to practice or teach she used to hold my feet and would not let me dance. Somewhere I felt, doesn't she like dancing? But when I used to take her in my arms and teach, the expressions on her face used to change and I could see her happiness and passion for dance.
Jayashree Nair- Satisfied and thankful to God
Rekha Nadgauda- I shall consider it as a part of ‘Garbh Sanskar’ to which Ashwini responded positively since her initial training. It wasn’t exactly a surprise as she decided to choose dance as her profession but it certainly gave me immense pleasure and contentment! Meanwhile, Aditi took her time to realise her dream. She was aware of her interests which gave her an inkling to become an actress. She even tried for various auditions and expressed her wish. As time passed, Aditi realised that she would definitely prove well as a graceful Dancer than an appreciated Actress because she had those inherent qualities of a dancer in her. I never compared both of them as every individual is different and has a freedom of choice. But the fact that I was blessed with 2 daughters who chose to become dancers was more than a bliss to me.
Arundhati Patwardhan- It's too early now to say whether she would take it up as a profession. But I would be most happy to see her dance and excel in it.
Tejaswini Sathe- As Sarveshwari has a strong dance oriented family background, she was often asked questions like “do you like dance? Will you too become a dancer ?”. She used to look at us and hesitantly answer ‘yes’. When she was in 10th, she, without any hesitation, said “Yes ! I want to pursue dance as my career”. At that moment the happiest person on earth was me.
Jayashree Nair- Sujatha started picking up intricate steps and she had the fortune to start learning from my own Gurus.
Rekha Nadgauda- Both the girls attended regular dance classes along with other students. It was necessary for them to learn this attribute of learning with other girls and grasping the material with the same speed. This made them learn quicker and remember things. To my surprise, this value made them grow faster along with others and the spark within them kept showing as they continued learning. To add upon this, I also took efforts to take my students at various workshops conducted by Kathak maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj, stalwarts like Pt. Shama Bhate, Pt. Suresh Talwalkar and Rajendra Gangani to name a few, where girls could get a proper guidance and learn incredible material under their guidance. Their presence itself taught so much!
Arundhati Patwardhan- When Sagarika decided to learn dance, she refused to learn from me. She had her own reasons for that. At first instance I felt bad but then I accepted the fact and was happy seeing her inclination and desire towards learning it. She is eager to watch different dance programmes and observe the movements and other details.
Tejaswini Sathe- Sarveshwari has just finished her school and the career oriented training is yet to begin. But she had a great learning experience during the Nritya Dhaara tour in USA with Maneesha Sathe (grandmother), Shambhavi Dandekar (aunt) and myself. She was lucky to get to watch them on stage and observe the nuances which will eventually help her while performing.
Jayashree Nair-In my learning days after school I had to travel by train and then walk to my dance classes. Initially my mother used to accompany me. I didn't have any private class and was always taught in a group. My teachers- husband and wife - were very strict and we students were extremely afraid of the Sir. All of us were good listeners and never asked questions.
The new generation is more lucky. My daughter is fortunate to have received private lessons from my Gurus. I have noticed vast difference in the teachers' approach to the younger generation who were treated as grand children. The relations were very open and friendly. At times, looking at the way Sujatha and my Gurus interacting, I have felt jealous of her!
Rekha Nadgauda- My guru, Natraj Pt Gopikrishna, was extremely strict in his teaching methods. We didn’t have the guts to ask him questions about what we didn’t understand or missing practice even for one day. The riyaaz hours were long and that too had to be without complaining. As a teacher, I too follow the same rules about discipline for my daughters and students. The individual time given for practice by Aditi and Ashwini has been satisfactory considering the generation gap and lifestyle changes. Ashwini completed her MA in Pune,under Guru Shama Bhate whereas Aditi pursued it in Nasik under my training. I take pride in saying that both of them are equally graceful in their own ways.
Arundhati Patwardhan- There is not much difference since we have a very systematic and defined way of teaching the primary technique.
Tejaswini Sathe- I had the privilege of learning from Guru Maneesha Sathe. I, by choice did not go to any other guru so there was no conflict or confusion while learning the technique as well as the abhinay part. But in Sarveshwari’s case, she learns from multiple persons, in addition to training received from her grandmother, aunt and myself! This will surely make her attain her full potential as everyone has different methods and to be able to match upto everyone’s expectations, she will surely work more hard! The level of strictness was very high when I was a student as compared to her training years.
Daughter-s put in their words…
Sujatha Nair- For me dance has always been a part of my life. I have grown watching my mother perform and teach. But, my mother was very insistent that I do my proper college, so I did my BA in English and then MA in Sanskrit. Presently I am pursuing my 2nd year in MFA from Sastra University.
Ashwini Kalsekar/Aditi Panse- We were toddlers when we had an attraction for dance and were impressed by it. We used to attend Aai's classes twice a week and had begun with the formal training. This continued till we turned 13-14. By then we had started attending Aai's programs, participating in some of her choreographies and wished to have 'Layakari', 'Grace' and 'Beauty' like her. We remember discussing this crucial topic at that point of life where our careers were to be chosen. She calmly stated that, I as a guru feel that you will be a graceful dancer and win laurels to make a wonderful career out of it with your efforts. This brought us hope and filled us up with confidence as she encouraged to step into the field of Art. This is when it turned to be a conscious decision. Words of support are the only essential elements for a student to take art as a career. This was the very reason why we both stepped confidently and took up dance as a profession. And when it comes to academic course, we believe that education is necessary to prove your expertise in any field. To achieve the mastery, we both completed our Nritya-Visharad and M.A (Dance).
Sagarika Patwardhan- It was a conscious decision, a bit unsure at first but over the time I have become sure that it is the right decision. All it took to persuade me was one of my mother’s performances!
Sarveshwari Sathe- It was a conscious decision to follow dance. I always loved to dance from the bottom of my heart. Dance has been around me since childhood as my mother, grandmother and aunt are graceful dancers. The sounds of kathak todas and ghungroos made a great influence on me. I just finished with my 10th standard,so right now I am not pursuing any degree in kathak but I will be definitely doing it later in future with the support of my mother and other family members.
Sujatha Nair- For Amma and me dance is passion. However the things go she has always stuck to her principles and tells me also to go with it. Being truthful to the art is our motto.
Ashwini Kalsekar/Aditi Panse- Competition is something that every person gets into since their birth. So we were never affected with it actually. The confidence given by your Guru always encourages you to improve and push forward. Those words of encouragement surely build up huge confidence in oneself and this is why we both never feared competition. When it comes to guidance, we believe that it is the support of Aai that we have been receiving at every step of ours. Her support was enormous from time to time. Her words of guidance always motivated us where she wanted us to walk few steps ahead of her rather than following her own footsteps.. Her golden words include- 'Riyaz', 'Dedication' and 'Decision making power' are extreme important and inter-connected with one another. Failing in any one of these might invite people who are waiting to point fingers at us. She always gave us the strength to fly high and inspired us to earn respect in the world, provided that we were aware of the fact that hardwork is the key! So her guidance and support has always been never ending and motivating.
Sagarika Patwardhan- Knowing well the intricacies of this profession she has always been telling me to give my best and to dance for myself and not for others.
Sarveshwari Sathe- I do agree that this field is becoming as competitive as other professions and my mother gives me a lot of guidance. She sends me to participate in different dance competitions so that I can realise the growth in competitive levels in the dance field. Not only that but it also helps me in developing the confidence level while dancing.
Sujatha Nair- She has always encouraged me to compose. But for me she is the best, so I prefer following her. And I believe, in time, with her blessings I will be able to do my bit.
Ashwini Kalsekar/Aditi Panse- For both of us, Aai was not just liberal about dance but she has always been a liberal mother too. I, being the elder one don't remember she interrupted us while thinking about some innovative idea or taking some courageous decision. It was equally challenging for Aditi too, being the younger daughter. Aai’s deep knowledge and forward thinking definitely influenced us to progress as individuals too. Plus, she allowed us both to explore folk dance and learn Bollywood through workshops by popular artists but we both never misused these opportunities permitted to us. Therefore, bollywood was never given a priority over Kathak. So this also relates to 'Guru shishya parampara' where respect is offered from both the sides. In our case too, she permitted us to stretch our boundaries but never let us break them and we too responded positively by respecting her liberal thoughts. As a Guru or as a Mother, she never opposed us while we attempted to initiate new projects and break some traditional boundaries.
Sagarika Patwardhan- As she herself is an innovative modern artist she sees no wrong in out of the box thinking and stretching the boundaries of traditional dance.
Sarveshwari Sathe- My mother is very liberal in allowing me to explore dance.After my 10th std exams,I have begun with my morning training sessions and so now will get more time and perception to explore.
I have a long way to go and I am sure I will be able to do it with the enormous trust and encouraging support by my mother.
Sujatha Nair- I am not at all ambitious. So 5 years after? I will be still performing and enjoying teaching. And yes, probably starting branches of Upaasana dance academy in different places…
Ashwini Kalsekar/Aditi Panse- Dancers tell stories and display emotions with their bodies through various dance styles. They are more likely to pursue other dance related professions after they can no longer perform professionally. Fierce competition exists even in this field, among professional dancers for available jobs. There also lies a high probability of injury with this career since it is very physically demanding. Working hours are highly irregular and may include days of rehearsals followed by evenings of performances, seven days a week. Travel is often required as a professional dancer, sometimes also to exotic destinations. Considering these factors, this seems more like a tricky question for an artist because we are self employed so we cannot answer it like 'probably not in this job' or 'aiming for a better opportunity elsewhere'. Art is a field where there is no specific pattern. Each one has to strive for building a better version of oneself. Though we do ask ourselves questions like, what are our realistic expectations out of our career? What about our ambitions? And does this particular position align with our overall growth and goals? So, in a way it is the thought process and journey that counts more than the destination as an artist. The best part by far is that we honestly realise our satisfaction with ourselves as we prosper with knowledge and see ourselves as dedicated as Aai.
Sagarika Pathwardhan- I shall seek to follow in my mother's footsteps and hopefully be a good Dancer and make her proud.
Sarveshwari Sathe- I will focus on my riyaaz and let it decide where it takes me.
Mother Daughter…in tune with each other!
Jayshree/Sujatha- Difference of opinion among free thinking persons are a sure thing. Generation gap? Again a sure thing. Right always prevails. Amma and I fight a lot but the end outcome is always nice. All’s well that ends well!
Rekha /Ashwini/Aditi - Surely we all three do have difference of opinions which is necessary for growth. Infact, that’s a very natural and healthy way to keep our creativity alive. We have tremendous patience and understanding amongst us which is why we always had a keen ear towards each other's constructive criticism and ideas too. So according to us, difference of opinions never became a barrier or cause of conflict between us. Hence, handling it with maturity is how we react to this.
Arundhati/Sagarika- Sagarika is a very intelligent and inquisitive girl. So she has her own independent opinions which I respect. But always tell her to work hard and be humble. A difference of opinion is held as a positive thing and indulged in wholeheartedly.
Tejaswini/Sarveshwari- No conflicts so far!!
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