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Gratitude for an amazing dance teacher : Jayalakshmi Eshwar

             This is a story which started in 2003. I was a young college graduate, sure I owned the world and it was only a matter of days, mere minutes till my talent would be recognized… 
Sure enough, I had been dancing Bharata Natyam for 7 years, and finally the Indian Embassy in Bucharest, my home town, had just awarded me a scholarship for studying this dance form in India. It was the first time I was traveling there, also the first time I moved away from my family.
            The reality sank in after I landed in Delhi, a beautiful and extremely humid city in full monsoon. While in Romania I was a mini star having full page spreads in national newspapers as one of the few (if not the only) Bharata Natyam dancers there, when I reached Delhi I was just a dance student, surrounded by many other students, some of whom were much more experienced.

And then, I met my teacher ms Jayalakshmi Eshwar: Guruji, as we called her, or \’respected teacher\’. Walking into the classroom that would become as familiar as my home in the next five years, I was amazed to meet my beautiful, vibrant teacher. Younger than my own mother, yet with decades of dance and teaching  experience, full of vitality and dignity, grace and feminity.
Ms Eshwar\’s strength is most apparent in her large beautiful eyes: a single look can express so many emotions and nuances.
On that hot humid day in August, in the center of Delhi at Triveni Kala Sangham, I learned the first important lesson in dance: one cannot learn classical dance without humility. In fact, one cannot learn at all without first abandoning one\’s Ego before entering the class. Whatever I thought I knew about dance, I left it behind, and started to learn again, adavu after adavu, dance after dance.

All the merit goes to my teacher, and now, after so many years I am happy to express how much her hard work means to me. Day after day, we had dance classes in which errors were corrected patiently while also instilling the required discipline. It was a hard work for us to learn different dances, often in languages we did not understand like Tamil and Telugu. But however hard it must have seemed for us, the real complex work was that of our teacher, who taught us not only about dance, but also introduced us to Carnatic Music, suggested we learn Sanskrit, and helped us enjoy South Indian food for the very first time. There are so many aspects involved in learning Bharata Natyam: one learns not only about choreography and training the physical body, but also about using different parts of the body in different ways at the same time, while also having one\’s attention on the rhythm and words of the song,  and on expressing the fast changing emotions of the heroine.

Looking back on the five years I spent in Delhi learning Bharata Natyam, it is sure that luck was on my side. I had the best dance teacher possible in ms Jayalakshmi Eshwar. Strict but fair, creative and original, an excellent performer and educator: her lessons have stayed with me. Many times when I dance, teach or even talk to our children, I remember my dance teacher. Whenever somebody asks about a good book for learning Bharata Natyam, my recommendation is to get a copy of Jayalakshmi Eshwar\’s books.

We have so many stories to tell. But the most important one to tell first , is that of an amazing dance teacher, who taught us so much.

For more information about ms Jayalakshmi Eshwar or to order her books, please visit her website:


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