Sathyanarayan Raju – An Adroit Dancer

…And I thought I was learning Bharatanatyam!:-)

“In 1987, dancer M. P. Suma saw one of my performances and liked my dance. She was choreographing a ballet for her exams at the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography and took me to perform for that.

When I went to the Natya Institute, Guru Maya Rao asked me to perform a dance piece and I did a Manduka shabdam; then she said, “Oh, you are learning Kuchipudi.” You will be shocked to know that till Maya Didi said that, I didn’t know I was learning Kuchipudi. Rather, I didn’t know that there existed any dance style other than Bharatanatyam.”

That’s Sathyanarayan Raju speaking with a twinkle in his eye, one of the leading and most sought after male dancers of Bangalore, who has carved an eminent niche for himself in the field of Bharatanatyam.

…Oh, I didn’t start when I was a tiny tot!

I was 18 when I started learning dance, in 1983. I belong to a Telugu Kshatriya family. I was very interested in dance and music. My mother took me to see almost all Telugu movies.

Sathyanarayan Raju was initiated into the art of Kuchipudi by Subhadra Prabhu

One day I heard a tattu manai sound from a house that I was passing by. I went inside and learned that a lady by name Subhadra was teaching dance. I requested her to take me as her studnt. My father opposed my learning dance but my mom was for it. I joined the class for a fee of Rs. 25 per month. I didn’t see any muhurtha.

My first performance was in 1985. While I was practising for my performance, my mother passed away.

Kuchipudi-Kathak-Bharatanatyam, I took them all in my stride…

After Maya Didi opened my eyes about what I was really learning, I performed for Didi for ten years in all her productions. I started learning Kathak from 1990, under Maya Didi and Chitra Venugopal at the Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography. I was also performing for Prabhath Kalavidaru which is now called Prabhath Arts International. I started learning Bharatanatyam from Guru Narmada from 1990 and till today I am with her.

He has also received training in Bharatanatyam from Guru Padmini Ravi, Savithri Jagannath Rao (Chennai) and Guru Bhanumathi.

Devotion, dedication and hard work have molded Sathyanarayan into an unforgettable dancer. Endowed with a charismatic and lingering stage presence, Sathyanarayan has won prestigious accolades, both from the press and public alike. Known as an impressive dancer in the international dance scene, he is also an ‘A’ grade artist of Doordarshan.

Known for his Aramandi

Aramandi is a very importance posture in dance, and I didn’t want to make any compromise in learning that. It just comes from practice.

Numerous noteworthy performances

He has many solo performances to his credit which have won him encomiums from connoisseurs of art.

I had never performed solo. In 1996, it was T. D. Rajendra who encouraged me to give a solo performance in Yavanika. It was an eye-opener and since then there has been no looking back.

He has performed to all-round praise at festivals such as ‘Natarajothsava’, Mysore, ‘Dasara Mahotsava’, ‘Halebeed Festival’, ‘Soorya Festival’, Trivandrum, ‘Natyanjali Festival’, Chennai, Kinkini Festival, Abhinava Utsav and ‘Bharat Kalachar Festival’, Chennai, and ‘Prasiddha Foundation’, Bangalore.

Sathya has the experience of working and winning acclaim in dramas directed by renowned directors like M. S. Sathyu, B. Jaishree and others.

The USA – his second home!

I have been fortunate to have dancers like Malathi Iyengar, Lata Pada, Asha Gopal, Sujata and Supriya inviting me often to their countries to perform. I am very happy about that.

Sathya has had various opportunities to exhibit his talent outside India and has worked with several dance companies abroad in countries such as the USA, UK, Switzerland and France.

Sathya has been awarded ‘Kala Arathi Rathna’ by Arathi School of Dance, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Samskruti – his dance institute

I started Samskruti. The Temple of Art, in 1997. I train students as well as organise dance festivals for showcasing the talent of other dancers.

Sad, but true, it’s not easy to have dance as a career…

I strongly feel that one has to be financially strong to have dance as a career. Else to make a living through dance is difficult.

Opportunities for male dancers

It’s a struggle whether one is male or female. As I say, one has to be financially strong to take up dance as a profession. My family had not accepted my dancing earlier but now they are with me, for they know I have achieved something in this field.

Besides dance, I may venture into my family business…

I am thinking of going into the construction business (my family line). I also design kurtas for people.

I wish there is something like Rangashankara for dance and dancers…

…where dance shows are held 365 days a year and people come and watch the shows buying tickets. If anyone is planning to do that, I will extend my full support.

Marriage will happen sometime…

It is not necessary that she has to be a dancer; as long as she is understanding and we respects each other’s independence, it should be fine.

Advice for youngsters

Please go and watch others perform, for you can learn a lot by watching good performnces. Also remember: if you don’t go and watch the shows of others, how do you expect others to come to your shows?

Bangalore crowd

Cheers to them!