MTTN: Have you felt any differences between performing as a student on stage and performing as a faculty member?
Dr. Haritha: Performance wise, I didn’t find any difference. Of course, I miss my batchmates and the group I used to perform with. They were the best. But now, as a staff member, I have to dance with the staff. I’ve felt a difference there, they’re all seniors to me. I was more comfortable performing as a student but now I’ve gotten used to it.
MTTN: Do you have the same kind of rapport you had when you were a student? Is it different with the staff members?
Dr. Haritha: The faculty members are senior to me, so I have to be mindful and polite. With my batchmates, I could tell them their mistakes and what they should do – confidently – I could tell them all of that. With the staff, I have to think twice. That’s one difference I’ve felt but otherwise, it’s all fine, it’s all the same. At the end of the performance, we are all happy, regardless of whether I’m a staff member or a student.
MTTN: After being the Cultural Representative for three years, how did it feel when you had to part from that post?
Dr. Haritha: I had mixed feelings about leaving the post. Trust me, being the cultural rep is not a piece of cake! It involves a lot of jobs. For three years during Hues, I ran around, trying to be everywhere at once. You have to make sure the batch is united. You have to make sure people don’t feel bad, you have to keep everyone’s opinions in mind. So, I was relieved, but sad as well.
MTTN: Which was the toughest moment you’ve had during your time as the Cultural Representative?
Dr. Haritha: It was definitely batch unity, trust me. Certain batches of people will like certain opinions and you have to be neutral. That was very difficult to manage. You have to make sure everyone is comfortable and make your judgment. That was the hardest part. Being the boss was difficult when disagreements arose.
MTTN: What’s going on in your mind when you see others or your juniors performing on stage, when you are watching them now, as a faculty member?
Dr. Haritha: I really miss my batchmates! When I see the group dance, street play, Mad Ads – our batch used to win all of those, especially the fashion show. It was too good. Hues and Utsav and all the memories! The juniors are really good but still, that feeling is not the same. You will cheer for them, but the same feeling you had when cheering for your batchmates is not there. But it’s okay!
MTTN: What are your best stage moments?
Dr. Haritha: Every single time, the best stage moment is when they call out our names for the prizes. When they announce your names and you go to collect your certificates – that is a wonderful experience!
MTTN: What would be your advice to students who want to perform Bharatanatyam on stage for Utsav or Hues or any sort of event?
Dr. Haritha: I am a trained classical dancer for 10 years in Bharatanatyam. But the thing is, I have never performed on stage here. I was mostly busy with the Eastern and Western group dance. The main problem is, for classical dance, you need to practise in your room, alone, since solo performances are preferred. I found no time for that after the group dances. And the costumes, you had to go get the ornaments and everything. I love classical dance but my schedule was too hectic, so I have not performed here. But for those who are interested in performing classical dance, I would tell them – practise daily, every day, it doesn’t come all of a sudden! The mudras, expressions and all of the nuances require a lot of time and practice.
–As interviewed by Shalom Antony
–Photographs by Farah Khan