Cultural barriers can be transcended by transplanting a form of art like Bharatanatyam, which is about 200 years old, into a different region of practice. There are dancers in our country who have been relentlessly working to break this cultural hurdle and give a new dimension to the practice of classical dance in Bangladesh. One of them is Arthy Ahmed, who is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer.
Arthy recently came back to Bangladesh after completing her Diploma in Teachers Training (Bharatanatyam) with a first class from Tamil University, Chennai. Being trained in a place where Bharatanatyam originated, Arthy noticed differences in the styles of dance forms taught in both the countries. "I did my BA (H) Dance and MA in Bharatnattiyam from Rabindra Bharati University under ICCR scholarship. From Kolkata to Chennai, the more I moved towards south, the more I saw variations in the basic forms," says Arthy.
The dancer now aspires to instill the pure form of this art into the new generation. As a teacher of Kolpotoru and a performer of Shadhona, she feels grateful to have a mentor like Lubna Marium who is reaching out to an international audience with our dancers. In Kolkata, Arthy trained under Smt. Sujata Ramalingam. With the lessons she learned from her gurus, she now tries to spread the beauty of Bharatanatyam.
“Bharatanatyam is my kind of prayer, through which I connect to God and express myself,” adds Arthy. When a Bharatanatyam dancer comes to the stage, it is hard for the audience to take their eyes off them. This form of dance is not only charming, but it also makes people disciplined. To reach a level of perfection, a Bharatanatyam dancer must be disciplined and hardworking. It also gives lessons of life. Hence, Arthy thinks Bharatanatyam has many purpose rather than just to entertain people.
In 2018, Arthy Ahmed was the first in the country to perform a thirty-minute solo Varnam, which is the most critical item of Bharatanatyam Margam, in the event Rongoprobesh 2018, choreographed by Kirti Ramgopal. Artistes from South India were present in the event to perform live orchestra on which Arthy performed her solo performance. She also thinks there are talents all over the country and as artistes it is important to nurture them. Besides teaching students of Dhaka, she now teaches students in Chittagong in every weekend.
Bharatanatyam has helped Arthy connect to audience from different languages and cultures. It has made her grow as a person, and this is exactly what Arthy wants for the future generations.