Kalamandalam Sarojini I Photo: Mathrubhumi
Malappuram: Dance teacher Kalamandalam Sarojini received a ‘Vishukaineettam’ from her students, which is priceless. The present students of the school and the old students together built and gifted a dance school for their beloved teacher. The keys were handed over to Sarojini on Vishu day.
Sarojini has trained over 1000 students within a career spanning four-and-half decades. Many were taught classical dance for free. She occupies a special position in Kalamandalam also as one of the early dalit students.
She was one of the four girls of farmer Appukutty in Kunnamkulam. Music and dance were her passion from a very early age. The owners of the house where Sarojini’s mother went for household chores advised to send her to Kalamandalam. However, her appearance and caste became a hurdle, said Sarojini. Later, with the help of a politician Koman ji, Sarojini met MK Raja who was a member of the Kalamandalam committee. This meeting paved way to her entrance in Kalamandalam.
Sarojini recollects that there was no kind of discrimination at Kalamandalam. However, poverty ensnared her. The ‘Arangettam’ (first classical dance performance) was performed by selling the tamarind tree on the premises of her residence. The teachers who knew about her family’s condition refused to accept ‘dakshina’ (money offered to teachers before performance).
After completing diploma in Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam, she mastered Kathakali and Kuchupudi also. She married harmonist Nisari in 1979.
She had started ‘Radhika Nrithakala Kshetra’ at Manjeri. But left for Abu Dhabi and taught dance there for 12 years. She returned later and her dance classes became active again in Manjeri from 2019.
She used to take classes from a rented room. Now, her students have built a building for dance class adjacent to her house and named it ‘Nadana Sarovaram’. Her students Ajeesh, Jisha Raghavan, Suchitra Visweswaran, Dr Sreekanth, Neena Sabareesh, Sunoj, Devi Sree and many more joined together to present her this gift.