A Master of fine arts, a trained Bharatnatyam dancer for over 14 years under the renowned Guru Dr. Sandhya Purecha, a well known actress and a famed anchor, Poorvi Bhave is a versatile personality. Born in a Marathi family in Mumbai, Poorvi has represented Mumbai University in many national and state level dance and drama competitions. Poorvi spoke about the challenges faced by classical dancers and how classical dance has evolved with changing times with our Editor-in-Chief Vaidehi Taman.
You come from a family rich in sangeet-based tradition. Tell us your journey into classical dance?
My mother is a Hindustani classical singer and a Guru. Her family has a legacy of art and she is also the great granddaughter of playwright Natyacharya Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar. The family of my father on the other hand is into academics especially in science. My father is a chemical engineer and my paternal side too is extremely fond of classical music. So as a child, it was very clear that I had to learn a performing art. But when my mother asked me if I wanted to learn music or dance, I was very clear about learning dance. Since then my parents and the entire family have always supported and encouraged me.
You have acted in serials and plays. You have also anchored many shows on television and have pursued classical dance too. Which one is more challenging?
Well I must say classical dance. That does not mean anchoring or acting are easy at all. It’s just that classical dancers today are facing multiple challenges. Right from finding authentic Gurus to learn dance, to getting funds for their own programs and also not to forget attracting audience who come watch programs; everything is getting tougher everyday. Besides, due to rigorous physical activity, dancers face immense physical challenges just like athletes. Nevertheless, this entire effort pays back multiple times in terms of respect, love and appreciation. Classical dance can make you reach extreme level of bliss and satisfaction, which is completely internal, all yours. And that’s why everybody here wants to dance!
With whom do you compete? What is your goal in life?
I don’t have competitors! Currently, since I have just restarted and revisited the fact that classical dances are indeed challenging, I have developed respect more than ever towards dancers. I am in awe of most of them around me. My goal as of now is to perform at as many festivals as possible. Maybe some research work is on cards. I am keeping my complete dedication and faith in my Guru Dr. Sandhya Purecha. Under her guidance, eventually I want to reach as far and wide as a Bharatnatyam dancer.
How many dance based scholarships have you received so far?
Under the guidance of my Guru, I have received the Junior Scholarship by CCRT at the age of 12. I was also awarded a Scholarship by Department of Cultural Ministry of Govt of India in 2010. In the same year, I received the title of “Singarmani” awarded by the Sur Singer Samsad, Mumbai. I have also completed my Masters in Bharatnatyam from Bharat College of Fine Arts and Culture, and have secured a Silver Medal for the same.
If given a choice will you choose acting first or dance? What are the common challenges an artist faces as an actor and dancer?
I think after a few years, dance will be my only preference. But right now, I am loving juggling between both the arts. The common challenges lie in getting the opportunity to perform quality content which is difficult in both the art forms in different senses.
Who was your first dance Guru? What inspiration did you draw from your mentor?
My first and only dance Guru is Dr. Sandhya Purecha. It has been more than 20 years now. Sandhyatai’s constant research work in Bharatnatyam related Sanskrit texts, her passion about translating theoretical concepts like Kalasa Karanas in actual dance have always made me think very highly of her. I have always seen Sandhyatai strive for perfection in her student’s body language as well. All her qualities inspire me a lot.
What is Marathi Bharat-natyam?
Maratha King Serfojiraje Bhonsle II ruled the Tanjore province of Tamil Nadu. During his reign, he wrote several different Rachanas for Bharatnatyam in Marathi. Late Shri Acharya Parvati Kumar Guruji conducted an extensive research on these texts and choreographed them to reinvent the Marathi Bharatnatyam Nirupana or repertoire.
Classical dance classes are mushrooming nowadays; they are run in every nook and corner. How do you look at this business?
Well, in a way it’s exciting. This shows classical dance forms are in demand. But a lot of classes are not authentic and that makes me worry about the integrity of art in the future.
Let it be a dance show, or dance competition or television show. In the name of fusion or modern dance, the classical dance form is mixed with contemporary dances with minimal knowledge about it? What is your take about at it?
Honestly, I don’t like it. It looks flimsy and Bollywood version of classical dance. Yet some creative artists have the correct vision to use Bharatnatyam or other classical dances in a contemporary form and then mix it up with some other form. In such cases, styles blend well. And it does not look like a mockery of classical forms. But such amalgamations require in depth knowledge of different dance styles and also a lot of honesty!
How many years it takes to become a good dancer?
Ideally, a training of 12 years is the minimum. But in today’s world, I would say 8-10 years at least.
We hardly see classical dance performances, in comparison to other modern dances, what can be the reason?
The mass appeal for classical dances is still lacking. It’s a challenge to bring it out of its classist shell without losing its authenticity. Modern dances are modified to appeal the masses. There is a basic difference in the approach. But innovations are helping classical forms reach more people than in the past.
Why classical dances have a target of peculiar audiences?
It’s true and a little sad, but this too has changed over the years. Traditionally classical dances had only the bhaktas in temples or the Kings in Royal Coats as the audience. Eventually, it reached auditoriums and became accessible to general public. Then it came to television. Now there are further more openings with the advent of social media. So now, there is no pre-meditated intention to keep the art restricted to a peculiar audience. The artists are more than willing to showcase it to all segments of society.
Who is your most favourite classical dancer?
My Guru, Dr. Sandhya Purecha for sure.
What are your plans ahead in this journey of dance?
The plan is to practise hard, dance, innovate, study and reach out to more audience.
What is your message for our readers and particularly for those who are aspiring to become classical dancers?
Hard work, consistency, dedication and faith. Have them all!