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Fledgling into infinite skies

Bharatanatyam legend Geeta Chandran released another fledgling into infinite skies with the arangetram presentation of disciple Mehak Chawla on Mahashivratri, Saturday, 18 February, 2023 at Triveni Kala Sangam Auditorium, New Delhi.Mehak Chawla, daughter of Rita and Raman Chawla has been learning Bharatanatyam since the past twelve years is ecstatic on the most important day of […]

Bharatanatyam legend Geeta Chandran released another fledgling into infinite skies with the arangetram presentation of disciple Mehak Chawla on Mahashivratri, Saturday, 18 February, 2023 at Triveni Kala Sangam Auditorium, New Delhi.
Mehak Chawla, daughter of Rita and Raman Chawla has been learning Bharatanatyam since the past twelve years is ecstatic on the most important day of her life as a Bhartanatyam dancer. She pays an ode to her Guru saying, “Dear Geeta Akka: You are special to me in so many ways. In you I have found a true Guru; you have truly lit my path and shown me direction. To me, you are a manifestation of the Goddess, the divine Mother whose presence and blessings have brought miracles to my dance. You have always and always invoked the best in me, and only stoked the positive, and for this I feel deep gratitude to you and thank God for leading me to you.”
An arangetram is an important occasion in the career of any Bharatanatyam dancer. After twelve years, sometimes even decades of arduous training, when the Guru is confident that the disciple can sustain a solo performance, the arangetram is announced. It is an honour to the Guru, a momentous rite of passage, that marks the first milestone in the disciple’s journey into the ocean of Bharatanatyam. In the 35 years that Geeta Chandran has mentored students at Natya Vriksha, Mehak’s is the 50th arangetram performance that Guru Geeta Chandran is presenting.
Geeta Chandran founded NATYA VRIKSHA in 1991 when six students came under her tutelage; NV has since grown to embrace many more disciples. Currently, nearly 200 students are being trained under NV. Inspired by the traditional Guru-Shishya model of imparting education, the teaching pedagogy at NV incorporates elements of shruti-drishti-smriti (hear-see-imbibe). To disciples, NATYA VRIKSHA is a second home, a creative cocoon that feeds all the senses.
The South Indian languages (Tamil and Telugu) in which this dance form is traditionally based are unfamiliar to most of the students coming to NATYA VRIKSHA where there is a good representation of students from the north, east and west of the country, as well as the south. Geeta takes special care and interest in imparting the meaning and ideas underlying the lyrics the disciples learn.
Geeta also familiarizes her students with our ancient epics, legends and mythology, which form the foundation of the Indian classical dance experience. The library at NV is also an open resource for students and is also often the starting point for Geeta’s own solo work as well as the collective’s choreographies.
NATYA VRIKSHA also encourages inclusivity and the attitudes and values that Geeta forges, makes NATYA VRIKSHA an enlightened new-age institution.
A widely feted artist and star-performer, Geeta Chandran uses her deep skills in Bharatanatyam as ‘force multiplier’ for the widest range of classical dance issues that have engaged her focus: exploring linkages between body and mind; forging relationships between solo dancing, group dancing and choreography; actualising the connects between the artist and society; and using dance as a medium for expressing abstract notions of joy, beauty, values, aspirations, myth and spirituality.
Mehak Chawla came under Geeta Chandran’s tutelage at Natya Vriksha in 2017.
Currently teaching at the Ambience Public School, Safdarjung Enclave, she has over eleven years’ experience of teaching Indian Classical Dance in schools & institutes and has been since 2012, an examiner with Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, Mumbai.
She is the recipient of the Venkatraman Iyer Award of Excellence, Gurukul Anubhav Scholarship – SPIC MACAY, where she took a month-long intensive training of Kudiyattam under Guru Margi Madhu Chakyar.

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